Shorter working times

On 20-21 October 2016 we organised a meeting on shorter working times at the European Parliament. Representatives of political parties, parliamentary groups, trade unions, the scientific community and social movements from seven European countries exchanged their positions, expectations and experiences.

The meeting took place in a difficult time, where employers and governments rather bank on longer working hours and maximum flexibility. While reducing working hours is still a marginal topic, it gains importance in social discourses. The reasons are changes in the working and living realities: increase of productivity on the one hand and higher demands for good work and a meaningful life on the other. The political-economical interrelation of paid employment and working hours became apparent in this context. Besides remuneration, working time is a determinant factor for the question of distribution of primary wages.

The participants call on political institutions and social groups to support the efforts for a limitation and reduction of working times and for the implementation of a „short full-time employment“ and will themselves remain active in this area. The fact that the 8-hours-day was introduced by law 100 years ago and the 40-hours-week was imposed by trade unions 50 years ago should now lead to the next big steps in the direction of shorter working hours. The project “short full-time work for all” stands for overcoming unemployment, for raising gender and social equality and for protection of the climate and resources.

The organisers of the conference are aware of the problems that are linked to this project. Shorter working hours with wage and personal compensation means broad re-distribution and will meet determined opposition by the rich. Solutions for independent workers are required to protect them from exploitation.

The participants will continue the debate internally and publicly.

Participants were:
- from the scientific community (Prof. Alfred Kleinknecht; Dr. Steffen Lehndorff; Madeleine Ellis-Petersen)
- from political parties and parliamentary groups (Thomas Händel, MEP; Barbara Romagnan, member of the French National Assembly; Daniel Bernmar, group chairman in the city council Gothenburg; Alice Vernersson, communication, city Gothenburg)
- from trade unions (Wiebke Warneck, ETUC; Sylvia Skrabs, ver.di Germany; Eva Scherz, GPA-Austria; Susanne Hasslinger, Pro-Ge Austria; Sam Groen, FNV Netherlands; Muriel Wolters, CGT France; Aurore Joly, CSC Belgium)
- from social movements, such as Attac Germany, Collectif Roosevelt France, Mouvement National des Chômeurs et Précaires France, church employees organisations (KAB /KdA)
- from the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung, Brussels office (Dr. Martin Schirdewan, Head of Office; Dr. Roland Kulke, Project Manager)

austerity, crisis, trade unions