Labour to push for shorter working week by 2030
The shadow chancellor called a report recommending a 35-hour working week in the public sector over the next 10 years ‘terrific’.
Labour would look to implement a 35-hour working week by 2030 to allow workers a greater quality of life, shadow chancellor John McDonnell has said.
Mr McDonnell was speaking at the launch of an independent report he commissioned by Lord Skidelsky on how to achieve shorter working hours, which the shadow chancellor said was “terrific”.
Lord Skidelsky’s report recommends the introduction of legislation to achieve a 35-hour working week in the public sector over the next 10 years.
Mr McDonnell said the initiative is about “rebalancing working hours with a greater quality of life for workers”.
He added: “Parents pass in the night between shifts and never have time together, just to ensure they can survive.”
The shadow chancellor said he believes a general election is coming soon and that the Labour Party hope to adopt the report’s recommendations into policy.
Mr McDonnell said: “I don’t know when a general election is coming, as soon as possible as far as I’m concerned, but after we’ve got a no-deal off of the table.
“We’re rapidly writing the manifesto and the findings of this report will go into our policy-making process.
“I think a Labour government is coming and, as part of that, change is coming.”
The report also suggests that the Government should guarantee a job or training to any job-seeker who cannot find work in the private sector at a fixed hourly rate, which should not be lower than the national living wage rate.
Mr McDonnell said: “A Labour government could in effect guarantee that people will have an income in the form of work or training.
“We are committed to establishing a department of employment rights to ensure people are properly paid and have strong working rights.
“When Labour are back into government, we are committing to a policy of full employment.”
When pushed on whether a Labour government would introduce a four-day working week, the shadow chancellor said: “Watch this space.”
On whether the UK would continue to abide by the EU working time directive post-Brexit, he said: “Whatever happens we’ll be ensuring people have protections from long working hours and will be communicating over this with our EU partners.
“If there is another referendum, I hope we’ll be able to have a more realistic and sensible debate about what EU legislation has done for us.”
The author of the report, Lord Skidelsky, said: “Since the 1980s hours of work have stopped falling and have remained stuck at just over 40 hours per week.
“There is a great need for intervention to break into the circle of stagnant real wages and flattening hours of work.”
Responding to the shadow chancellor’s comments, Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party Paul Scully said: “This is highly embarrassing for John McDonnell. His own commissioned report makes clear his proposals could lead to wage freezes, problems at hospitals and hurt low-paid workers and small businesses.
“Despite these warnings, he intends to press ahead, showing Labour will always put their hard-left ideology over what actually helps people. Labour always leave working people worse off.”
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