Calls for four-day working week to be introduced in Ireland

Calls for four-day working week to be introduced in Ireland

IRELAND'S BIGGEST public service union has called for the introduction of a four-day working week.

Trade union Fórsa is asking for pilot projects in both the public and private sector to explore the feasibility of a four-day week without the loss of pay or productivity.

The union, which represents more than 80,000 workers in Ireland, agreed the initiative at its biennial delegate conference yesterday, Thursday 19 November, which took place remotely.

According to a statement from Fórsa, the delegates agreed there should be a "steady and managed transition to a shorter working week for all employees in the private, public and community sectors".

The meeting also concluded that remote working in Ireland should continue to be developed as a feasible arrangement, during and after the Covid-19 pandemic, as it improves work-time flexibility which they say is beneficial to workers, employers and the economy.

They referenced a survey, undertaken last year by Amárach, which revealed that 86% of respondents would be interested in working remotely, and over 80% of those identifying a hybrid model of working at home and in the office as a suitable arrangement.

Calls for an increase in the number of public holidays in Ireland was also backed by delegates, as Ireland currently has the lowest number of public holidays in the European Union with nine per year.

Speaking at the conference yesterday with regards to a four-day working week, Vice President of Fórsa Eugene Gargan said new technologies has allowed workers to increase their productivity, and a reduced working week would not necessarily mean a decrease in production.

"Reduced working time without loss of pay is the means of sharing the benefits of new technology and sharing the available work," Ms Gargan told the conference.

"The same thing happened in previous technological revolutions, which led to reduced working time. This proposal is an imaginative and realistic response to the radical changes that are occurring in technology, work organisation, and working time."

In September of last year, an official campaign to introduce a four-day working week was launched by Fórsa and Galway company ICE, who have already successfully implemented the initiative for their staff.

The '4-Day Week Ireland', or 4DWI, seeks a shorter week for staff while maintaining the rate of pay and level of output.