Corbynism 2.0: Why Momentum backing a four day week is a big deal
Momentum is getting behind a series of “radical and transformational” policies to be passed at this year’s Labour conference, including a Green New Deal, ‘Inclusive Ownership Funds’ and perhaps most excitingly, a four-day week with no loss in pay.
Momentum has also reaffirmed its support for some of the most radical elements of the Corbyn programme, including the Preston Model pioneered by Labour council leader Matthew Brown, ending migrant detention and a opposition to the war on Yemen.
Moving Momentum forward
Previously, Momentum has primarily focused on party democracy rather than concrete policies, occasionally promoting some of the more forward-thinking announcements from the Labour leadership whilst helping local groups come together across the country.
In an inspiring turn, the group has officially backed a four-day week to be passed as a motion at Labour Conference in September. This marks a real shift in how Momentum operates: it is kicking into full-campaigning gear, looking to actively change the political landscape of the UK with radical demands from below.
In truth, this announcement has come just in time. We are facing a series of massive crises in our society and nothing short of radical transformation will do the trick. We need zero carbon emissions by 2030 if we want to prevent catastrophic climate change – hence the Green New Deal. We have crippling inequality in this country and need drastic change in the way that the economy is structured – hence the Inclusive Ownership Funds. And we need a new deal for working people. That’s why I’m part of Labour 4 Day Week, which argues for a four-day week with no loss in pay for all.
Why we need a four-day week
A shorter working week would alleviate the widespread burn out and high, work-related stress levels that the UK workforce endures.
It would mean significantly fewer carbon emissions, as fewer people will be commuting to work everyday via CO2 guzzling transport. It is also an obvious and progressive way to deal with the next wave of automation technologies that are set to radically disrupt the ways that we work and the kinds of jobs available; what, after all, should labour-saving technology be used for, if not for freeing up time? Finally, less time at work means more time for ourselves, our families and our friends; we can engage more in politics and our communities and discover new hobbies we didn’t have time for before.
Keeping Labour radical
Recently, we’ve seen some of the forces within the Parliamentary Labour Party moving against the Labour leadership’s radical platform. Tom Watson’s Future Britain Group, a group of centrist Labour MPs, is suspected of trying to swing the party in a less transformational direction in time for the next election. This would be a disaster for a party that has seen remarkable public support for its game-changing plans to make the economy work for the many and not the few.
It’s time the Labour membership found its own voice and showed its representatives in parliament what we want. Corbynism has brought big ideas back onto the mainstream agenda. It’s now time to push on and take these big ideas through the Labour Party’s democratic process and into official policy.
With Momentum, we will campaign over the summer to encourage Constituency Labour Parties to submit the four-day week policy to conference and get it passed on conference floor. This would be a historic moment for the labour movement, and, if the Labour Party commits to it in the next manifesto, it would be a huge win for people’s lives and the environment.
This article originally included a claim that Momentum had reaffirmed its support for a ban on arms sales to Israel when they infringe upon the rights of Palestinians. This has since been removed, and a new line added to state that Momentum has reaffirmed its opposition to the war on Yemen.