Trade union federation the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has launched a campaign calling for the working week be reduced from 45 to 40 hours, without employees losing any income.

The should fall within the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA), the union said.

More employment

“It is generally accepted that the reason for reducing working hours to 40 is to create employment,” said Sizwe Pamla, Cosatu national spokesperson, said in a statement. “If work that is done by five people can be done by 10 people who are not working long hours of 45 hours, this could create more jobs.”

The union added that SA has unemployment rate of 27,1%, but when using the expanded definition our unemployment rate is sitting at 37%, which means that close to 10 million people are without jobs.

“This means that we need more regulation in the labour market because what is causing joblessness is not only technology, but also labour flexibility.”

READ: Why the 8-hour workday is outdated and ineffective

More balance

Working long hours, said Pamla, means people do not have time for their families.

“This places workers at high health and safety risk at the workplace.”

Cosatu said it would pressure government and employers through protest action and added these changes should be made without any loss of income.

There is a global movement toward more flexibility in work places.

Four-day weeks

A company in New Zealand, Perpetual Guardian, implemented a four-day week for its employees in October 2018 after a successful trial.

Results from the trial showed that employees reduced their stress levels, while job satisfaction and a sense of work-life balance improve significantly.

READ: Study suggests 3-day workweek for people aged 40+

“I think this is a global conversation now,” said Perpetual Guardian founder Andrew Barne in an interview with the New Zealand Herald. “Groups like the Trades Union Congress in the UK – as a direct result of our trial – have come out and said they want to explore bringing in a four-day week.”

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