Sunday, December 02, 2007


For many years we have been told by apologists of capitalism that the lot of working men and women was gradually improving. One of the illusions that we were fed was that with improvements in capitalism the working week would be dramatically cut and the big problem of the future would be what to do with all our new-found leisure. Like many other promises of capitalism this has proven to be false.
"A culture of working long hours is on the rise once more in the UK after a decade of gradual decline, according to figures today. More than one in eight of the British workforce , now work more than 48 hours a week, the maximum allowed under the law unless workers agree to waive that limit. The proportion rises to one in six in London. The figures highlighted by the TUC and extracted from the latest Labour Force Survey, prompted warnings from campaigners that children and family life risk being squeezed further. The UK's working hours are among the longest in Europe. But there has been a steady if slow fall in long-hours working since 1997. The latest figures reverse that trend for the first time under the Labour government, with 93,000 more people now working more than 48 hours a week compared with 2006, taking the total to almost three and a quarter million (3,242,000). The increase represents a rise from 12.8% to 13.1% of the workforce." (Guardian, 28 November) RD

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