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Greens call for 35-hour working week

TT/The Local · 16 May 2010, 13:48

Published: 16 May 2010 13:48 GMT+02:00

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The party’s governing board had left the issue vague, arguing only for a shorter working week, but delegates in attendance pushed through a concrete proposal to limit the amount of time spent at work.

Board member openly opposed the move in a debate preceding the vote, arguing the cost to the exchequer would be excessive and would undermine further investments in the welfare system.

But the party’s dual spokespersons, Peter Eriksson and Maria Wetterstrand, rejected the notion that the vote represented a defeat for the party leadership.

“It’s exactly what we’ve proposed and the only question is why we didn’t include it in the first place,” said Wetterstrand.

By way of explanation for the omission, she added that calls for a 35-hour working week could seem unclear in light of the fact that the party's long-term goal remains to legislate for a 30-hour working week.

Wetterstrand also underlined that the first step in the proposed reform would provide support for parents with young children wishing to cut their working hours on a temporary basis.

The party also voted in favour of introducing an amnesty for illegal immigrants, reiterated its opposition to joining the eurozone, and called for the EU to become more democratic and less centralized.

With the Greens seeking to form a coalition government with the Social Democrats and the Left Party, the heads of both coalition partners put in an appearance at the congress on Sunday morning.

Story continues below…

Social Democrat leader Mona Sahlin received a standing ovation when she and Left Party chief Lars Ohly took to the stage in Uppsala.

“When I look at our congress, yours, and the Left Party’s, I see hope for the future, belief in the future and willpower And we dare to say what we want ahead of the election,” said Sahlin.

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

16:34 May 16, 2010 by abaeterno
Sounds great. Is this viable given the global economic situation?

What do Swedens employers think about the proposed 35hr week.

I look forward to hearing what viasat think to this.
17:05 May 16, 2010 by Beavis
Ok people you have to think about what these morons are offering along with the left idiots proposing a 32 hour week. Whos going to pay for this?? Their idiotic idea is to try to force employers to hire more people. When in reality (where these people dont live!) employers cant afford this. They will want their employees to do 40 hours work in 32/35 hours. And of course employees will suffer as they will only be paid for 32/35 hours work. Are employees ready to take a 20% instant pay cut?? A´nd dont forget income tax will be raised by bag woman so take off another 2-5% of your salary.

These policies mean everyone will have far less spending money in their pocket and will make Sweden a place where companies just wont do business anymore.
17:33 May 16, 2010 by Mb 65
Unbelievable. i thought they already did a 35 hour week. some shops don't open until 10am now. Any company that can move out of Sweden will. What with the unions demanding higher wages, the very high taxes i cannot understand how company's survive here.
17:48 May 16, 2010 by Andy from NYC
Why work at all? Just grow trees? Or vacation in Greece?
18:14 May 16, 2010 by dwb5555
@Andy from NYC

I agree and maybe they can wait for the Leprechauns to bring them their pot of gold too.

And we can all ride unicorns.
18:23 May 16, 2010 by Mib
In a perfect world, it all sounds very nice and cozy. What a utopia they want to create. If their aim is to increase employment, just lower the employers taxes. Don't raise fuel duty and ensure welfare is for those who need it. But, no that would hit the majority of their voters! Oh well, back to the real world.
18:23 May 16, 2010 by Puffin
Of course you have to remember that in Sweden breaks are not counted as part of the working day - so although you work 40 hours you actually *have* to be work for 42-45 hours when breaks are included

So a 35 hour working week would be 9-5
18:41 May 16, 2010 by Beavis
@Mib spot on nail on the head.

@Puffin.. yes it would be 9-5 minus 20% of your salary (dont forget you now only get paid for 35 hours) If people actually think about if their willing to take a 25% pay cut (with the extra income tax) it is fact only the rich who can afford to do this, and I thought they were leftist....
19:37 May 16, 2010 by wenddiver
Why stay at work so long????? Is somebody somewhere waiting for a shipment of something from Sweden???? Extend your vacation, the Chinese will make your products while your away.

The cool Dude in the photo is probably wearing Birkenstok shoes, perfect for sitting on your couch all day.
20:01 May 16, 2010 by Kevin Harris
Every time these guys have another vote, another thousand voters shift to the Alliance. The Moderate party should pay for them to have a weekly conference instead of an annual one.
20:04 May 16, 2010 by soultraveler3
Thought they said they would lower work hours while letting workers keep the same salary. Did this change?
20:33 May 16, 2010 by Beavis
@soultraveler3 Even if that is this case, who foots the bill, the employer?? It will just mean that salaries across the board will have to decrease 20% to make up the extra cash.Businesses cant afford it otherwise, and the loser in the end is the employee... So either a way a vote for these nonsensical policies is a vote for 25% pay deduction.Unless of course you a cleaner in which case youll be hoping to get some sort of dole after they axe your job (as promised)
21:39 May 16, 2010 by repat_xpat
Great idea! Sweden needs to increase its productivity. Boosting the work week to 35 hours will help tremendously. How will they do it? Limit Fika to Friday afternoon? Take shorter lunches? Start at 8, or work until 4? What every it is, the Union isn't going to like boosting the hours of its workers. It will be a tough battle, but worth if for the good of the country.
08:10 May 17, 2010 by proteasome
In practice a real pain for the worker. France has been trying to raise the number of employed by shortening the hours of each worker. My French friend and his family thought it was really inconvenient. Some days your job required you to actually put in a "full" day of work. You show up two days later and your boss has to send you home because of the work hour problems. This might sound nice but it kills the family schedules and makes you behind on your tasks all the time. Productivity killer and if the worker gets to keep the same salary where will the money come from?
09:40 May 17, 2010 by Mr Gee
"Greens call for 35-hour working week "

Okay, so it's a desirable principle but there's little chance of success as it disadvantages the country against others who work longer hours. Let's also keep in mind that despite legislation many employees do more hours than is officially booked or recognised, and some country's data is more reliable than others.

So, it's time to stop being parochial and think big. To have any chance of realising the 35hr dream, the Green Party must coordinate this across as many countries as possible to gain support from other political parties. Then there is a better chance of success.

Otherwise the dream will remain just as it appears here, a little headline.
09:56 May 17, 2010 by flintis
These people need to get in touch with reality.
10:01 May 17, 2010 by Kevin Harris
@Mr Gee

I agree. The Swedish Greens should start with the governments of China and the USA. Once they have used their influence to persuade those countries to work a 35 hour week, they should move on to India, and the rest of Asia.

That should do it.

10:48 May 17, 2010 by Ugly A
Work is not the problem, its the fact that for many there is scant incentive or opportunity to move up or ahead, to dream. So many people are living month to month, going into work, doing their job, getting paid every month...cycle after cycle with very little passion or drive beyond a semester here or there for their weeks off. People are overworked or physically and mentally taxed because they see no viable future beyond where they are at the moment. This is why such an unusually large amount of people burnout here, they've become cogs in the machine. That's okay for awhile, and it's good to have a job, but if there is no light in the job or at the end of the tunnel, then it would make sense that someone would go into the wall (and because Sweden HAS a plan for burnout, that route is already is that much easier to take). I don't think making the work week shorter will result in fresher workers. Work is a good thing, especially if there is an incentive and excitement in the work. Too much time off makes people lazy and recalcitrant.
11:02 May 17, 2010 by bbeynch
It's not "working week". It's "work week"! But demanding a 35 hour work week, and then 30, isn't this the type of leftism that drove Greece to the brink of third world anachy? What is it that you people are trying to do? Create a proletarian revolution? Oh yes, that's probably it! It is highly unlikely that a shortened work week will do anything to further the Swedish economy, as the Greek socialist expiriment has shown. Focus instead on job creation. In the private sector. Not in the public sector! Vote wisely in september!
13:13 May 17, 2010 by karex
@Mib: Agree with you on that one: want to create more jobs? Reduce the heavy burdens on the employers. They also want to hire more, so they can do more. They just can't afford it.

@UglyA: I think that you should run for office (and I'm not being sarcastic). Insightful analysis. But as flintis points out, politicians have trouble getting in touch with reality. So the best course of action should be get rid of them and let people who actually stop to think about consequences of stupid ideas make decisions for a change.

Also agree that this is the first step to creating a Swedish Greece...
13:28 May 17, 2010 by Mr Gee
@Kevin Harris

Good point!

So, until then keep turning the handle and watch it carefully. Otherwise suddenly another country will turn it for you and if you're not careful the handle will disappear altogether to Asia or even USA!
13:40 May 17, 2010 by eZee.se
I'm trying to open my own company selling physical items... and so had to get into the tax routines, and now I RELLY dont understand how companies survive in Sweden. It IS a nightmare.

lower the taxes for company owners and make them pay a percentage of that to their employers - everyones happy (well, except the tax collectors)
14:03 May 17, 2010 by Mr Gee
Let's take a piece of paper.

On the left is: Reasons that Attract business in Sweden.

On the right is: Reasons that Detract business in Sweden.

I leave it to whoever reads this to guess:

a) how long is the list on the right and

b) how many times bigger is the list on the right compared to the left.
15:14 May 17, 2010 by DAVID T
Don't have a problem with it so long as they only get paid for it - how many employees would like to take a drop in pay?
19:04 May 17, 2010 by Mr Gee
The problems of creating/running a business against bureaucratic obstacles are not confined to Sweden of course.

Many countries could do with starting a programme to simplify/ease the processes of being self employed as it's one of the blood streams of European society.
19:31 May 17, 2010 by americanska
I am amazed that there are any positive posts on this. What a terrible terrble old fashed sociaist idea this is. The amazing things is there are peopel out ther naive enough, and short term thinking enough, to believe such nonsense.

Mr Gee - i really hope your joking. If everyone in the world did this, then everyone in the world would be worse off.

There is a reason we spend $100K on a peice of equiptment to so one man can dig a hole rather than hiring 20 workers to do it. Spreading the work around does not create anything.
06:56 May 18, 2010 by Uncle
americanska - first of all, chinese and indians hire 20 people to dig a hole, instead of making a machine.... Doing way better than the US economy-wise in the last 5 years.

You are such a fan of the free market. If the market would require a week with more hours, then it would create 5 mil. consultancy jobs and that is it.

What did Volvo do when sh... hit the fan? Shortened the week to 4 days to huge chunks of its business and saved cash on travel, meetings, insurance and whatever other overhead there is! It will allow businesses to save cash if the situation is bad and at the same time - hire consultants when the market demands it. Business becomes more flexible. They will be able to get rid of consultants faster and the economy will actually go up!
08:44 May 18, 2010 by americanska
Uncle - that is because those people make tiny wages. And those countries have too many people and they try to spread the jobs around. You might want to check out those worker's standard of living before declaring they are "better off than the US". The business owner is happy because there are a bunch of people willing to work for next to nothing. Is that what you want?....then move to China and get a job as a miner.

It's ok for a company to shorten the work when then there is Less work to do. It's another thing for the government to force this on everyone.

I suppose you want those companies to pay the consultants while still paying the workers their 40 hour wages??

If everyone in sweden wants a pay cut then maybe I should shut up. but i have a real problem with the government limiting how much I can make.
11:47 May 18, 2010 by Uncle
First, i am positive that being a miner in the US is not sugar. in addition, the wages in China are on the rise, while there are currently dead cities in the US, because thousands could not pay their mortgage anymore.

I want the companies to pay 35 or 30 or 10 hours a week to permanent workers and the rest of the time to fill with consultants. The work market would become dynamic and all the old gubbar that earn huge wages for sitting the entire day and complain about winter of '73, would start getting less and less.

If you do not want a limit on your working week - you should go to Japan and work there 90 hours a week, or get fired. this is real capitalism that you love!

In Sweden, it would be great to be ABLE to become a consultant and work 60 hours a week OR stay permanent and earn less if one would like to. Choice.
14:13 May 18, 2010 by americanska
Choice would be great. - Dynamic is great. But fruits like this are proposing the opposite. So I'm not so sure what your on about now.

Calling them consultants is pretty far fetched because the top managment would not be watching the clock....they would do what needed to be done. It's the less skilled work that would have to find the part timers. They would be considered independant consultants, Which are cheaper for the company because they don't enjoy the same benifits. This is what Walmart got in trouble for.

You've gone so far trying to prove me wrong that that a 35 hour work is is great - that you've started arguing for a libertarian society. I think I ( pro free market) has won the argument the best say possible. Made you argue my point for me.
19:22 May 18, 2010 by Uncle
I am happy that you awarded Oscar to yourself.

The problem is that you do not get that I am far from being a socialist. Quite the contrary. It is just I am saying that the free market will be "freeer" when useless people have the possibility to work less, while you are claiming that this market will be more regulated.

If you would realize that this entire country functions like GM - you would understand that there is a need in consultants. It would be the FREE market that decides their level of education.

Where exactly did you earn the Oscar?
21:36 May 18, 2010 by americanska
I agree with that. but the greens don't want that to happen, they want to keep things as they are but only allow people to work 35 hours.

To your point, the work place should be less regulated, I agree. But I don't know why you think the government increasing their roll would be the solution.
01:49 May 19, 2010 by DAVID T
the reason they work 90 hours a week in Japan is because they are hopeless and it takes them twice as long to get a job done
02:36 May 19, 2010 by Luke35711
1) 35 hour week would not mean shortening anything, it would actually mean increasing the work week, which is now circa 25 hours squeezed between oversized lunches and extended fikas, when they don't happen to be on holidays; Half of the 25hours is for useless meetings which have only one real purpose: communism building and bullying anybody who might be tempted to think independently;

2) there is actually no need to discuss this, as soon everybody will be unemployed, anyway, and thus definitely voting for the red-green coalition to keep their benefits; This plans cannot fail, haha!
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