There’s a slogan on the left: “You don’t hate Mondays. You hate capitalism.”It diagnoses how millions of people feel about their jobs: After the brief freedom of the weekend, the drudgery of work reasserts itself; workers once again count down the hours until Friday evening.
There’s no doubt this sentiment is felt in part due to the nature of many jobs: unstimulating, unrewarding and often under-paid.
But it’s also about the amount of work: British workers do longer hours than workers in the vast majority of European countries. This doesn’t make us richer or more productive, it just makes us tired, stressed, and it gives us less time to do the things we love.
That’s why as well as using technology’s power to eliminate unnecessary and burdensome jobs, and in addition to demanding better pay and working conditions, we should demand a shorter working week: A 4-day week – or as I prefer to call it, a 3-day weekend – with no loss of pay.
Studies show this would improve workers’ productivity, reduce carbon emissions, and lead to better mental and physical health. But most fundamentally, it would give workers more freedom: Time to pursue their interests and passions, liberated from the constraints of the working week. (It’s no coincidence that the opposite of “work-time” is “free-time”.)
It would also solve a contradiction in the economy: Where overwork exists side-by-side with un-(and under-)employment. A 4-day week would help to fix both of these social ills, with the overworked working less and the under-employed working more.
This demand is sometimes ridiculed as unrealistic or utopian, as if the 5-day working week were a natural, innate feature of human nature, fixed and unchangeable. This is ludicrous: The 2-day weekend exists only because trade unions demanded workers have some – albeit limited – time to enjoy the fruits of their labour.
So whilst it might be the case that Monday mornings will never be the high point of the week, alongside better pay and more stimulating jobs, we should also campaign for this: Less work and more fun with the 4-day week.
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To coincide with the release of our latest art pack and the We Demand Better march on June 18th, cartoonist Jamie-Max Caldwell has created this excellent guide on how to make your very own placard.Download