Leading trade union calls for introduction of four-day week and increase in public holidays in Ireland
Ireland currently has the lowest number of public holidays of all EU member states.
Irish trade union Fórsa has called on employers in Ireland to pursue pilot projects that would explore the feasibility of introducing a four-day week, without loss of pay or productivity.
Fórsa, which has over 80,000 members, urged both public and private organisations to explore the possibility of introducing a four-day week at a remote annual conference on Thursday.
The initiative to call on employers was agreed, Fórsa said, as part of a “steady and managed transition to a shorter working week for all employees in the private, public and community sectors”.
Delegates at the conference also backed the union’s call for an increase in the number of annual public holidays in Ireland, which currently stands at nine, the lowest in the EU.
The government’s tourism recovery taskforce also recently recommended the introduction of an additional Bank Holiday in the calendar to help boost tourism during the off-peak season.
At the Fórsa conference, delegates also called for the development and implementation of remote-working and other arrangements to improve work-time flexibility “to the benefit of workers, employers and the economy”.
A motion for a fundamental review of working patterns was called “in light of the experience of the Covid-19 crisis, and in response to the impact of new and developing technologies, the climate crisis, increasing caring demands, and demographic shifts including longer life expectancy”.
A survey conducted by Amárach Research for Fórsa last summer, before the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, revealed that 86% of respondents were interested in working remotely, 80% of whom expressed a preference for a hybrid arrangement split between working from home and working from the office.
Fórsa is involved in 4DWI (Four Day Week Ireland), a coalition of businesses, unions, environmentalists, academics and NGOs established to campaign for shorter working time in all sectors of the economy.
A campaign for a four-day week in Ireland officially launched last September and amongst the speakers at the launch was Margaret Cox, CEO of Galway company ICE, which implemented a four-day week last year and reported a 27% productivity increase shortly afterwards.
Calls for a four-day week in Ireland come after a group of left-wing politicians from Germany, Spain, the UK and elsewhere urged a similar move in a letter sent to European leaders including UK prime minister Boris Johnson, German chancellor Angela Merkel and Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez earlier this month.