Wednesday, 23 Jun 2021

Four day week: Sturgeon urged to introduce bombshell new system – ‘Scotland can lead way!’

ITV debate: Audience laugh at Corbyn's four-day week proposal

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Roz Foyer, the general secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), which represents more than half-a-million trade unionists, made the case for the SNP government, led by Nicola Sturgeon, to bring in a four-day working week. Speaking during the ‘Listen Up’ segment on STV’s Scotland Tonight show on Wednesday evening, she said: “The time has come for us to move to a four-day working week with no loss of pay. Not only are shorter working hours good for our physical and mental health, for supporting family life and our environment, but they have also shown to be good for productivity and growth.

“This is a win for workers, a win for society, and also a win for employers.

“Post-Covid, this could be a key way for the Government to support and boost economic recovery by increasing employment levels.

“What better way could there be to thanks workers for all of the sacrifices made over the past year by giving them a better work-life balance.”

The comments on the benefits of a four-day working week have received the backing of Advice Direct Scotland, which runs Scotland’s national advice service.

In 2018, the charity introduced the measure for its own staff that saw employees receive the same pay but work for a day less each week.

Advice Direct Scotland insists the move has received widespread public support and has been shown to improve productivity and staff morale.

Absenteeism at the organisation has also plunged by three-quarters (75 percent) since the working week was cut – with the charity also insisting the level of service they offer has not been impacted.

Andrew Bartlett, chief executive of Advice Direct Scotland, said: “These welcome comments from the STUC show there is growing support for a four-day week.

“The model is already well established in productive and efficient economies in Scandinavia, and Scotland can lead the way in the UK on this.

“This isn’t about businesses just giving staff a free day off each week – we know from our own experience that workers are far happier and more productive as a result, and absenteeism has fallen significantly.

“And what’s crucial is that it makes sense financially for businesses and has a positive impact on the bottom line.

“While the model won’t be possible in every industry, for those workplaces which can adopt it there is much to be gained.”

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Last November at the SNP’s annual conference, party members voted overwhelmingly in favour of a four-day working week by a margin of 1,136 votes to 70, calling on the Scottish Government to launch a review of working practices in Scotland, including the “possibility of a four-day week”.

Currently, employment law is still controlled by Westminster, meaning any policy aimed at reducing working hours could only be introduced if the SNP is successful in gaining independence for Scotland.

But the Scottish Conservatives branded the SNP’s plan “absolutely ludicrous” and claimed it would cost the public sector at least £2.5billion to implement.

The party claimed delivering the plan would cost the NHS an extra £1.5bn, the education system an £430 million, the police an extra £431m, the fire service an extra £108m and the prison service an extra £43m – all before cutting staff salaries or public services.

Maurice Golden, the Shadow Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, told Express.co.uk: “This is an absolutely ludicrous plan that would cost Scotland £2.5billion.

“At the height of the pandemic, how we can be possibly considering additional costs without the associated benefits is just absolutely mind-numbingly excruciating.

“It beggars’ belief that this is being actively considered by the SNP.”

He added: “The deficit Scotland currently has is bigger than what Greece had at the height of the financial crisis.

“When you add on a four-day week and a £2.5billion deficit onto that, you have an economic calamity on your hands.”

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