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Limitation of Working Hours and Days

Comment 12th July 2010

To limit employee working hours to a maximum of 40 hours per week, to be (subject to consultation etc) fitted into 4 days per week.

(Excepting certain industries such as leisure and restaurants et al) no employee expected to work, INCLUDING HOME WORKING, on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

Why does this matter?

From the 19th Century through to the early 20th Century, the trade unions had, as a major goal, a 40-hour working week. This was eventually achieved.

From 1980 onward, a trend has started and grown evermore accepted and powerful, that employees should work "flexibly", meaning at the convenience (mostly) of the employer and that such "flexibility" shoould include endless extra hours of (almost entirely unpaid) work into the evenings and even at weekends.

The advent of the Internet, mobile telephones etc has meant further incursions into the rights of employees to a private and family life, in short a home life. Many employers expect employees, even at low-ranking levels, to deal with enquiries or to discuss work matters while at home on the weekends, via telephone or email etc.

This proposal is a long-awaited refreshment of the RIGHT of employees not to be effectively on call 24/7.

The proposed and modest 40 hours p.w. can be fitted into four days per week, i.e. 10 hours per day, giving people three completely free days per week for their own enjoyment, entertainment and cultural growth etc. This is not so revolutionary: the Austro-Hungarian Empire closed down at midday on Fridays and (at least on my last visit in 1999) everyone in Prague was still doing the same.

Finally, it has to be said that automation, new communications, computerization etc has made the work of any one individual far more economically viable, but the problem has been that the OWNERS (shareholders, trusts, high net worth people etc) of businesses have taken the lion's share of this economic surplus value, just as with the extra unpaid hours. time for a change.

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