Plaid Cymru has called for a radical new approach to the way we work, which would increase workers’ free time, while at the same time future proof the Welsh economy.
Luke Fletcher MS, Plaid Cymru’s economy spokesperson, has pointed to the growing threat of automation which many fear will create mass redundancies, but explains that if automation benefits are shared over society and coupled with the introduction of a four day week, this could “future proof the Welsh economy.”
In addition to economic benefits, a four day working week could improve worker well-being, reduce the carbon footprint due to fewer commutes, and would create the opportunities to free up people for volunteering and contributing to their communities in different ways. In addition, the extra day would help balance the burden of unpaid work – such as caring and house-keeping – that often falls on women.
On Wednesday 22 September, Plaid Cymru will lead a debate in the Senedd, calling on Welsh Government to adopt a four-day working week pilot in Cymru.
A four-day working week pilot has already been trialled in Iceland, where it was deemed an “overwhelming success”. Meanwhile trials are being planned in Scotland, Spain and Éire-Ireland.
Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson for the economy, Luke Fletcher MS said: “A four day week would have four-fold benefits: It’s good for well-being, it’s good for the economy, it’s good for the environment and it’s good for our communities.
“COVID-19 has changed our work practices and shone a light on the inequalities in our society, not least that the burden of unpaid work falls most heavily on women. Freeing up an extra non-working day could help shift the balance, and also creates the opportunities for people to engage more in their local communities. Perhaps equally compelling is it would instantly reduce our carbon footprint, from one less day spent commuting to work.
“Ever lurking in the background is the dual threat and promise of automation – the chance to free workers from the grind of long hours, set against the fear of mass redundancies as people are replaced by machines. A four day working week could future proof the Welsh economy, as long as the productivity gains from advances in automation, and the time saved by workers, is shared across our society.
“If we are to future-proof the Welsh economy, we need innovative and forward thinking policy solutions, and Plaid Cymru’s proposal for a four day week could see Wales lead the world in a cultural paradigm shift that could bring benefits to all.”