TUC backs UCU's call for three-day weekend

14 September 2021

Congress also backed UCU's call to decarbonise and decolonise in the fight for climate justice

The TUC backed calls for a historic extension of the weekend, after a motion by UCU passed during its annual congress.

Delegates at congress, held online, supported a motion to launch a public campaign for a reduction in overall hours worked so workers can enjoy a three-day weekend with no loss of pay.

UCU - which brought the motion - said calls for a three-day weekend echo worker demands in the 19th century for 'eight hours for work, eight hours for rest, eight hours for what we will'. And that after the sacrifices workers have made during the Covid pandemic the time had come to demand an extension to the weekend.

The motion, supported by the Communication Workers Union and the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, notes that the weekend was originally won by trade unions, securing greater freedom for workers, but that there has been little progress in winning more leisure time since then. It also notes that working hours in the UK are now amongst the highest in Europe and that they increased even more during the pandemic.

The successful motion commits the TUC to launching a public campaign for the three-day weekend alongside a programme of political lobbying. A working group of trade union representatives should also be set up to discuss how to plan and implement the policy in each sector.

Pilots of a four-day week show no loss in productivity, whilst reduced working hours can increase overall employment and protect jobs. Scotland is the first country in the UK to confirm it will trial a reduced working week.

UCU has released a video in support of the campaign and its general secretary Jo Grady has written in the Morning Star about why the three-day weekend is essential in freeing up workers to enjoy more leisure time.

Congress also supported UCU's motion on climate justice which called for climate education to be embedded across the education system and within trade unions by 2030.

The union says it is vital that all young people and adults are equipped with the skills they need to understand climate change and respond to its impact on communities, industries and economies.

The motion, says that consequences of climate change are not distributed equally, and that the crisis is overwhelmingly caused by higher income nations and intrinsically linked to the legacies of colonialism which promoted carbon-intensive industries around the world. Despite not being responsible for the majority of emissions, poorer nations and communities will be most acutely affected by the impact of the climate crisis.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: 'Workers in the UK work some of the longest hours in Europe, leaving many exhausted by the end of the working week, too tired to enjoy their free time or build quality new memories with their loves ones. This isn't right.

'Today, the trade union movement has sent a clear message that workers are long overdue a reduction to their working week and an extension to the weekend and I am looking forward to discussing how we can deliver it with trade unions in each sector.

On decarbonising and decolonising Jo said: 'Climate change is an issue for all workers and trade unions will be campaigning for a just transition to a zero-carbon economy that leaves no community behind.

'By embedding decolonisation and decarbonisation into the education system we will ensure all young people and adults have the skills to understand the causes of climate change, respond to its impacts and understand its intrinsic links to the legacies of colonialism.'

Last updated: 20 September 2021