IG Metall is pushing for a four-day week

A RECESSION IS not a good time to ask your boss for a pay rise. So IG Metall, Germany’s biggest trade union, is mulling other perks its metal-bashing members might extract from employers. On August 15th its boss, Jörg Hofmann, told the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper he would push for firms to adopt a four-day working week.

German workers should not make Friday leisure plans just yet. Employers have not responded—it is mid-August, after all—but they are likely to put up a fight. Nonetheless, Mr Hofmann’s salvo ahead of collective-bargaining talks later this year points to a new stage in European labour relations—and a culmination of decades of pushing for working hours to be cut.

If you think no worker would object to a three-day weekend, think again. Even fans fret about trade-offs. Workers could face longer hours from Monday to Thursday, or a cut in pay. Some employers, notably technology startups, already dangle longer weekends to recruit sought-after brainboxes, or offer flexible hours. But a five-day slog will probably remain the norm in lower-paid jobs, where productivity gains from more rest are less obvious.

IG Metall’s timing is not coincidental. Its members agreed to forgo a pay rise in the covid-19 crisis. Around 6m Germans currently participate in the ...

via Business Feeds

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