Working week 'should be cut to four days' - and we should be paid more too

The working week should be cut to four days as new technology continues to make our jobs more efficient, a union leader is urging.

According to TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady, employees across the country are deserving of a longer weekend and higher pay because too many firms are using technological advances to treat people unfairly.

She (Munich: SOQ.MU - news) believes bosses and shareholders "must not be allowed to hoover up all the gains from new tech", and that the benefits should instead allow companies to boost wages and give workers more time with their families.

Research by the TUC, which represents most UK trade unions, shows that most workers expect managers and shareholders will reap the benefits of new technology.

Ms O'Grady will tell the TUC Congress in Manchester on Monday that the results of the survey show that change is needed to ensure workers remain motivated.

"In the 19th century, unions campaigned for an eight-hour day. In the 20th century, we won the right to a two-day weekend and paid holidays," she will say.

"So, for the 21st century, let's lift our ambition again. I believe that in this century we can win a four-day working week, with decent pay for everyone.

"It's time to share the wealth from new technology. Not allow those at the top to grab it for themselves. We need strong unions with the right to go into every workplace - starting with Amazon's warehouses here in the UK."

Amazon - which recently became only the second company to reach a market value of $1trn (£779.3bn) - is among the firms to have been accused by the TUC of using technology to take advantage of employees.

Employers are alleged to be making staff work unpredictable hours because of an "always on" culture, with more than 1.4 million people working on seven days of the week and 3.3 million working more than 45 hours a week.

TUC polling identified stress and long hours as workers' biggest concerns after pay, although more and more jobs are feared to be at risk as robots and software improve.

Experts are worried about a "big bang" moment, where a large number of jobs are automated in a short space of time, with transportation, manufacturing and retail and wholesale the industries thought to be most at risk .

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