Promoted by David Beale, 36 Pleasant View, Withnell, Chorley PR6 8SE on behalf of Martin Powell-Davies of TUSC.

Saturday 15 June 2024

My pledge as a workers' MP for Chorley - cut the working week with no loss of pay

Chorley voters have been writing to me to ask that I pledge support for issues that are of particular concern to them. So that they are on the record for all voters, I am posting my response on some of the key issues here on my blog. This reply is to an email from the '4 Day Week Campaign":

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition's Core Policy platform, on which all TUSC candidates are standing, includes the following policy on Employment and Trade Union Rights: Scrap zero hour contracts.  Guaranteed hours and full employment rights for all, including migrant workers, from day one of employment; including trade union rates of pay and sickness pay, and sickness, parental and holiday rights.  Cut the working week to 32 hours with no loss of pay.

I am therefore very happy to sign your pledge "to campaign for and support legislation that will enable the transition to a four-day, 32-hour working week with no loss of pay". This is fully in line with the position of TUSC, and also of my party, the Socialist Party, one of the constituent parts of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, for which I am standing as General Election candidate for Chorley on July 4th.

As a teacher trade unionist, I have long campaigned for at least 20% non-contact time and a fixed limit for overall working hours to address the relentless workload that has driven so many teachers out of the profession for so long.

I can recall that it was not so many decades ago when science and current affairs programmes discussed how technology was going to enable the working week to be hugely shortened. Instead, we now live in a society where hours, and the intensity of those hours, have hugely worsened and many low-paid workers work more than one job in order to pay their bills. 

As the Socialist Party states in its "What We Stand For" pamphlet: 
"One hundred years ago the trade union movement was fighting for a living wage and a maximum working day of eight hours. Today the battle has to be fought again. The average working week in Britain is 41 hours, with 12% of workers slaving for more than 50 hours a week to make ends meet. Meanwhile others, including many young people, are left unemployed or trying to survive on just a few hours work. The Socialist Party stands for sharing out the work – with a maximum working week of 32 hours with no loss of pay – so that everyone has the right to full-time work on a living wage, but no one should slave every hour to make enough to live on. This – combined with a major programme of increased public services – could eliminate unemployment and underemployment".

The question, of course, is how to win the demand? I wish your '4 Day Week' campaign well in convincing more employers - like those listed on your website - to see the benefits of cutting hours without loss of pay in terms of higher productivity and reduced staff turnover. However, I fear that the drive to maximise profit will mean that the majority of employers - and governments that represent those big business interests - will continue to try and increase exploitation through making employees work longer hours for less pay. 

As a trade unionist and socialist, I believe the answer lies with organising trade union action aimed at winning your demand but also, to make such a policy permanent, building a socialist society run for the billions, instead of the billionaires. Under such a society, a plan for sharing out work for the good of all could be democratically agreed and applied in a way that will never be done under crisis-ridden capitalism.

I hope that explains the basis on which I have signed your pledge and why, if elected, I would be happy to work with you on helping to make the demand become a reality. 

Martin Powell-Davies
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition Candidate for Chorley

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