TODAY will be the first day back at work for many readers after a long Easter weekend and doesn’t it feel good, having had proper time to rest and recuperate?

Of course, those working in hospitality, retail, healthcare and other sectors won’t necessarily have benefited from the double bank holiday, or even the weekend. But for those workers who have, both this week and last week should be just that little bit easier, working four days rather than five.

For some, the idea of working four days a week without any loss of pay will be a perfectly normal one. Staff at the 158 accredited four-day week employers across the UK have moved to a permanent four-day week, experiencing a reduction of hours with no loss of pay.

It might seem like a radical notion, but so too was the idea of the five-day week back when trade unions were fighting for weekend breaks and a 40-hour work week.

The National:

It was the working class and particularly the Red Clydeside movement in Glasgow and the west of Scotland who fought hard for a reduction in working hours, including through the 40-hour strike and the Battle of George Square in 1919 (above), also known as Bloody Friday, where protesters and workers taking part in the general strike were met with brutal state violence in response to their demands.

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During the 20th century, the two-day weekend and five-day working week gradually became normalised and for many workers now is taken for granted. But it’s a factual reality that even with something as simple as the weekend, it took the huge collective effort of the working class to win.

The movement towards a four-day work week has been in conversation for decades but has really picked up in recent years, and so too has the amount of research proving the vast benefits of a four-day week for employees, employers and wider society.

Last year, the world’s biggest four-day working week pilot took place in the UK, and the results were hugely positive. According to a report by think-tank Autonomy, employees reported lower levels of anxiety, fatigue and sleep issues, with 71% of employees reporting lower levels of burnout.

Mental and physical health both improved, as did measures of work-life balance. Job retention massively improved, and the number of sick days reduced by a whopping 65%. The trial had no substantial impact on revenue and the vast majority of companies reported that business performance and productivity were maintained.

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It’s no wonder then that almost every company that took part in the trial chose to keep the four-day week after the pilot.

Since then, the Scottish Government has announced its own four-day working week public sector pilot, working with Autonomy to trial a four-day week in Scotland’s public sector, a key win by the Scottish Greens as part of the Bute House Agreement.

The Greens’ party staff have been working a four-day week with no loss of pay since 2022 and, as a former co-chair of the party’s executive, I saw first-hand the benefits of the shift.

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Similarly, just a couple of weeks ago, Green MSP Maggie Chapman (above) became the first politician to become a fully accredited gold standard four-day week employer with the Four- Day Week Campaign.

The move in Holyrood followed a 2022 motion at Glasgow City Council by the Green councillor for Govan and LGiU [Local Government Information Unit]Young Councillor of the Year Dan Hutchison, who successfully secured cross-party support in the council for a feasibility study of a four-day week as one of his first acts after being elected.

Greens in government, both local and national, are putting their money where their mouth is and leading the change, with benefits to their own staff and to workers in the public sector as the move towards a four-day week continues to catch on.

But despite all the evidence backing the positives of a four-day week, there has been a clear and concerted effort by the UK Government and the British right-wing to discredit the proposals as part of their nonsense culture wars.

In England, despite a successful trial by LibDem-run South Cambridgeshire District Council, the UK Government’s Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities intervened and ominously threatened to take “necessary steps” to end the practice there and at other English local authorities, in an attack not just on workers but on local democracy.

The move by the UK Government was found to have been influenced by the right-wing Tufton Street lobby group the TaxPayers’ Alliance, founded by Matthew Elliott, who was later chief executive of the Vote Leave campaign during the Brexit referendum.

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That probably tells you everything you need to know about who is spearheading the opposition to a four-day week. It’s clear that Scotland is continuing to lead the way in the move towards a healthier, happier society and a four-day week is a core part of this.

There’s a lot more work to do, such as properly funding the aforementioned feasibility study in Glasgow to make the move a reality.

Both in Scotland and across the UK, it’s clear that, much like workers more than a century ago fighting for a five-day week and the right to a weekend, it’s workers and the trade union movement which must be at the forefront of the move to a four-day week.

It’s time for us to move away from the idea that life for the working classes is all about labour, that we should spend the majority of our waking hours working, commuting or thinking about work.

Another world is possible where our lives don’t have to revolve around labour, and where we have the time to prioritise happiness, wellbeing and each other.

A four-day week will be a core pillar of this shift and is just the beginning.