John McDonnell says Labour could bring in a four-day working week

John McDonnell says a Corbyn government could bring in a four-day working week as part of their bid to woo voters at the next election

  • Shadow chancellor said Labour could take the pledge into the next election 
  • Remarks come days after Labour furiously denied it is considering the policy
  • Labour plans to put workers on boards and give them shares under radical plans

John McDonnell today said a Labour government could bring in a four-day week under radical measures to overhaul the economy.

The shadow chancellor bemoaned the fact that British employees work the longest hours in Europe.

And he said that the party could head into the next General Election with a pledge to give workers a three-day weekend.

His comments come just days after the Labour Party furiously denied they were looking at the policy.

Mr McDonnell was asked directly about whether a Jeremy Corbyn-led government could bring in the four-day week.

He told the BBC’s Sunday Politics show that workers should get some of the benefits  from the rise of automation and artificial intelligence.

John McDonnell (pictured today on the BBC’s Sunday Politics Show)  said a Labour government could bring in a four-day week under radical measures to overhaul the economy

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He said: ‘That might mean reducing hours of work. We are a long hours economy – we work the longest hours in Europe and yet we are less productive.

‘The Germans and French produce in four days what we produce in five and yet we work the longest hours.’

He added: ‘I think we are going to be exploring a whole range of issues around automation in particular. 

‘We will look at the working week because I think people are working too long.’

Asked directly if this could mean a four day week is in the manifesto, he said: ‘We will see how it goes.’

But Mike Cherry, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: ‘Of course businesses should look at using technology and AI to improve productivity in our economy, as the UK lags behind our competitors on the global stage. 

‘But it’s hard to see how this can be achieved by simply reducing working hours.’

A CBI spokesperson said: ‘At a time when flexible working is becoming more essential than ever, rigid approaches feel like a step in the wrong direction. 

‘Businesses are clear that Labour should work with them to avoid policies that work as a soundbite but not a solution.’

Labour unveiled a range of radical measures at their annual conference in Liverpool last week.  

Jeremy Corbyn (pictured in late September at his party conference in Liverpool) vowed to put workers on company boards and hand them shares in large companies at his party’s annual conference under radical plans to overhaul Britain’s economy 

This included giving a third of the seats on company boards to workers , while companies with 250 employees or more would be required to hand over shares to worker-controlled boards.

Workers would be given up to £500 each annually from the profits while the rest would go to the taxman.

Mr Corbyn also vowed to dramatically increase the amount of green energy Britain produces through wind farms.

He said his planned roll out of wind farms would create thousands of sustainable, high-skilled jobs, giving Britain’s economy a boost.  

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