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LABOUR: WE’LL MAKE YOU 20 PER CENT POORER

By Pete Moore On September 13th, 2019

The Shadow Chancellor loves a spin on Labour’s Tombola of Insanity. The problem is that they let him speak publicly about it.

Today John McDonnell is pushing for a 4-day working week. It’s an improvement on the last time his lot were in power. Most people had no working days at all then. Of course the students and other malformed voting fodder will lap it up.

15 Responses to “LABOUR: WE’LL MAKE YOU 20 PER CENT POORER”

  1. It’s an improvement on the last time his lot were in power. Most people had no working days at all then.

    No, UK unemployment was 8% in 2010 after the worst financial crisis for 80 years caused by greedy bankers and reckless speculation. Prior to that crisis it was 5%:

    https://www.google.com/publicdata/explore?ds=z8o7pt6rd5uqa6_&met_y=unemployment_rate&idim=country:uk:fr&fdim_y=seasonality:sa&hl=en&dl=en#!ctype=l&strail=false&bcs=d&nselm=h&met_y=unemployment_rate&fdim_y=seasonality:sa&scale_y=lin&ind_y=false&rdim=country_group&idim=country:uk&ifdim=country_group&hl=en_US&dl=en&ind=false

  2. 2010? I’m talking the 1970s.

  3. McDonnell’s plan, while silly, is not for the reason you suggest. He is making the suggestion that people work a 4-day week with no resulting pay cut.

  4. And if employers go bust they get shot?

    When national output is 20 per cent lower, the nation is 20 per cent poorer, whatever socialists might say.

  5. I don’t think he’s got that far. This is one of those thinking out loud moments I think.

    There is some evidence that in some firms that moving from a 5 to 4 day week doesn’t harm productivity. That staff will be as productive in the four days as they were in the previous five. That it will boost moral etc… which boosts productivity.

    I would imagine that it isn’t a universal principle and likely doesn’t apply in all sectors.

  6. 2010? I’m talking the 1970s

    But you said “the last time this lot were in power”. Not the last time they were in power in the 1970s.

  7. I recall a Government that gave us a three day week along with a boost to the candle making sector. Corbyn’s just planning a similar scheme.

  8. There is some evidence that in some firms that moving from a 5 to 4 day week doesn’t harm productivity.

    How about weekly output – does it remain the same?

    The point here is numeracy: total output in reducing production time from 5 days to 4 days declines by say 19% and thus productivity increases! Just think how much productivity would increase by reducing working time to 1 day per week 🙂

  9. Peter –

    There’s a big difference between the Blair/Brown Labour Party (cultural radicals), and the 1970s party (cultural conservatives but economic radicals).

  10. “Just think how much productivity would increase by reducing working time to 1 day per week 🙂”

    Yes and just think how much productivity would soar if everyone worked 24×7 and didn’t waste time by eating, sleeping or visiting the doctor. Just as taxi drivers would be more productive if they never stopped for petrol. Or never stopped at all…just turf the passengers out at 30mph.

  11. No Frank – who would buy the production, be it goods or services?

    Productivity is output per unit time, whilst production is the total output so production would rise but productivity would decline

  12. Yes Allan, but Frank makes a good point. If lunch-breaks were abolished production would in theory increase by 12.5% assuming an eight hour day. Productivity would be unchanged but we would all be “richer”. And we could do with a lot less holidays as well.

    I have no doubt that this will be on the agenda of the “global Britain” no-dealers once we are out of the hated EU. I can see The Sun headline now: “Commie Skivers demand to retain their lunch-breaks!”

  13. Allan,

    The whooshing sound you heard was the point going over your head.

    Production would not rise if people stopped eating. People would die.

    More generally there are very many organisations and jobs where output is not any simple function of time worked by individuals. Because not all jobs and not all organisations work that way and people aren’t the same as machines on an assembly line. The goal is to optimise the output and productivity of the organisation, which is not the same thing as having each staff member producing their maximum output.

    Very many firms would be wise to (voluntarily) make sure that people didn’t generally stay late, went home early on Friday, and took all their holidays. Because they’d get just as much or more done, and to better quality, they’d all have a better time doing it, and they’d likely also attract better talent.

  14. Frank

    This is the agenda of the post-Brexit Tories (purged of the Remainer “traitors”) and aided and abetted by the usual suspects in the Tory press and rightwing lobbyists think-tanks.

    The not-so-secret plan is to win an overall majority with the help of a pact with Farage and then implement Thatcherism with steroids, so that by the time of the next election in 2024 (assuming that Parliament hasn’t been suspended indefinitely) there will be nothing left of the welfare state and the NHS will have been sold off to Trump’s Big Pharma buddies and British agriculture will have been wiped out along with most of what’s left of British manufacturing. And all companies in the FTSE 100 and 250 will be in foreign ownership, including the London Stock Exchange itself.

    But we will know it’s for the best, because the Institute for Economic Affairs (funders unknown) will say so. And the usual suspects will lap it up.

  15. “The point here is numeracy: total output in reducing production time from 5 days to 4 days declines by say 19% and thus productivity increases! Just think how much productivity would increase by reducing working time to 1 day per week 🙂”

    As Frank as pointed out your point only works if production output is uniform ie a person will produce on 10 units an hour (not an average but that set amount). And if they work 5 hours they will produce 50, and 1 hour will produce 10, and 40 hours will produce 400. In reality production output is rarely uniform. People have peaks and troughs in performance. Studies have shown that people who are better rested, who are happier, who feel valued by their employer etc… are more productive.

    So, a person may produce 10 units on average now – over 5 days. But if eliminating the fifth day, and making that person more rested, happier, better valued etc… could push their average production to 12.5 units on average per hour. Meaning they will produce the same output on four days as they previously did on 5.

    As I said above I don’t believe it is a uniform idea. I think there are certain areas and places where it will likely work and certain places where it likely will not.

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