Irish companies that pilot or introduce a four-day working week will be able to seek support from 4DWI (Four Day Week Ireland), a new coalition of businesses, unions, environmentalists, academics and NGOs established to campaign for shorter working time in all sectors of the economy. The initiative, which is the Irish leg of an international campaign to establish a four-day week without reductions in pay or productivity, was launched in Dublin last Thursday.
The new coalition said reduced working time is better for business, better for workers, better for women, and better for the environment. It received widespread media coverage after a very positive public reaction.
4DWI said it would seek an early dialogue with Government and opposition parties “to explore how Ireland’s largest single employer can encourage a reduction in working hours across the economy” by example.
4DWI pledged to promote the concept of a four-day week with Irish businesses and offer support to those who trial the approach by drawing on the experience of companies like Galway-based recruitment firm ICE and New Zealand’s Perpetual Guardian, which are already reaping the benefits of introducing a four-day week for their staff.
The coalition says there are three routes to achieving the four-day week:
1. Good business leadership, combined with market and labour market factors, which will increase the attraction of the four-day week to more and more companies;
2. The reduction of working time, without loss of pay or productivity, through negotiations between management and unions in organisations where collective bargaining takes place;
3. Government as a large employer leading by example, supporting private companies that introduce reduced working time, and legislating where appropriate.
The launch was addressed by Andrew Barnes, founder of New Zealand trustee services company Perpetual Guardian, which won international acclaim when it introduced a four-day week for its 250 staff last year. He said: “The evidence is in. A productivity-focused workplace can achieve the outcome of working less hours. I encourage business to look at the initiative for themselves. It is clear to me this is the future of work.”
Kevin Callinan, general secretary of Fórsa, the first Irish trade union to back the four-day week, said working time had emerged as a central issue in international debates about the future of work. “We want to secure a fairer share of the benefits of economic growth and technological advances for all workers in all sectors of the economy. This would also have the benefit of sharing paid work as technology reduces its availability,” he said.
Other speakers on the day included representatives from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Galway firm ICE, Maynooth University, the National Women’s Council and Friends of the Earth.
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