Carlos Slim, a Mexican billionaire executive, believes that shifting to a three-day workweek would be beneficial for everyone. Of course, that would come with longer working days—he sees 11 or even 12 hours per day—and a later retirement age. However, even with the longer days and later retirement, a three-day workweek, according to Slim’s thinking, would drastically improve people’s quality of life.
That might go a long way towards helping an increasing number of workers in the U.S., provided wages still kept up with cost of living and schedules stabilized. Recently, The New York Times published a piece called “Part-Time Schedules, Full-Time Headaches.” The article looked at readers’ comments and notes about a previous article they’d written regarding how some state and local governments are looking for ways to limit companies’ erratic scheduling, and ability to send people home when there isn’t enough work.
The New York Times piece discusses how so many workers out there are at the whims of their employers, and have trouble getting a second job to make ends meet, or going back to school, because they don’t know what their schedules will be from week to week. They even have problems with things that ought to be fairly simple, like childcare, because of that. One possible solution is a three-day workweek with more set schedules.
This writer once worked at a place that had a 15-hour shift available. Those who worked that shift only worked three days a week, and they were long, grueling days. However, because the employees on that schedule had four days off every week, they had plenty of time to recover, and still spend time with their families and get things done without feeling like they were run ragged. As a result, that particular shift was in high demand.
“With three work days a week, we would have more time to relax; for quality of life. Having four days [off] would be very important to generate new entertainment activities and other ways of being occupied.”
Slim himself has given workers the option to work only four days a week, while still earning full time pay. Also, workers on a collective bargaining contract, who have been with the company since their late teens, are eligible for retirement at age 50.
Slim isn’t the first one to propose something like this. A think tank in the U.K. believes the solution to unemployment would be to limit the workweek to 21 hours, and allow prices and costs to fall, and then stabilize, at a point where they’re on par with the new, lower wages.
For a three-day workweek to work here, we would need at least one of these two things to happen: An acceptance of longer working days so that we’d still have full-time hours, and thus, full-time pay, or a shift in business culture away from seeing workers as costs to minimize, rather than assets to maximize. Keeping employees happy should be of paramount importance, and yet, the erratic schedules, low wages, and lack of benefits at many jobs show that employees are still primarily seen as a necessary burden on the bottom line.
Employers are also often dictators, who tell unhappy workers that if they don’t like their working conditions, they’re free to find another job. Many conservatives, both in and out of the political arena, trumpet that as well That’s all well and good, and worked when companies mostly offered good wage and benefit packages, and good schedules. These days, simply finding a new job is neither easy, nor a solution to these problems, for an awful lot of people. You live to work, when you should be working to live.
Wealthy executives like Slim have some good ideas about how to improve our society, bolster the middle class, and help the working poor. These are the types of people who have the power in this country, whether we like it or not. If only more wealthy and influential executives felt this way, we might actually be able to reverse our slide towards feudalism.
h/t Fox News 8 Piedmont