Tuesday, 30 April 2013
Why do we no longer talk about a shorter working week?
It’s been something which has been on my mind for a while a demand that has really gone completely off the radar. As socialists we talk about creating more work and decently paid jobs and so on but should we not also be looking to demand a shorter working week to say 20 hours or even the old 35 hours which is still very common in France still despite being under threat. All this would of course be for no loss of pay. Solving a jobs crisis and how much leisure time or time spent on politics learning and developing ourselves as a society too. It seems a clear demand we could and possibly should be raising more. The idea that work is the only way to run society and if your not working your somehow at a disadvantage is a interesting point of view. As we know many capitalists do not work and sit and live off the profits of their factories and industries. But a social wage is a concept which interests me a lot in a future socialist society pushing these demands when work is gradually being more and more automised under capitalism and we see our labour power fetching less and less value. While all nation states compete to drive labour power down to a low enough level to increase profits we as workers need to see that work isn’t the only way society can be ordered and that a reordering of society should involve a reduction in the working week. It just seems obvious that the likes of the TUC should be pushing this idea it’s something that could be extremely popular and gain a lot of support. By tackling several issues not least a job’s crisis by the idea of job sharing with the same rate of pay for all for similar tasks performed by the worker. I know I certainly do not want to be working all my life and I don’t imagine many others do too and why should we? At present the age of retirement is estimated to about 70 for me and my generation and it only looks like it will increase as austerity which is the norm now for as far as the eye can see. Capitalists who are in affect on an investment strike to take a Keynesian phrase for a moment will look to drive down any of their costs any way they can right now that includes deflating wages and the like. So a shorter working week will not be popular with the boss’s of course but much like gaining support from the media this is not and should be the deciding factor to whether a demand is correct or not. Allowing for a shorter working week would provide workers with a lot more free time to begin to organise society along socialised lines and starting to put in the building blocks for building a much fairer society that can start to me the needs of the many.