Attack on four-day week
CBI chief accuses Labour of ‘closing door’ on economy
Carolyn Fairbairn: plans would harm those Labour is trying to help (pic: Terry Murden)
CBI chief Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General has accused shadow Chancellor John McDonnell of “hanging a closed sign on the door” of the British economy.
She launched a scathing attack on his plan for a four-day week outlined at the Labour Party conference, noting that it comes on top of plans for higher taxes and mass re-nationalisation.
Ms Fairbairn said business shared Labour’s ideals of a fairer economy but said the party had to root its policies in reality rather than ideology.
Mr McDonnell told delegates in Brighton that the average working week in the UK would be cut to 32 hours within 10 years under a Labour government.
“We should work to live, not live to work. As society got richer, we could spend fewer hours at work,” he said. “But in recent decades progress has stalled and since the 1980s the link between increasing productivity and expanding free time has been broken. It’s time to put that right.”
The proposals for a shorter working week were welcomed by the trade unions. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It’s time for working people to share in the benefits of new technology.”
But Ms Fairbairn challenged the plans as being bad for the economy. “Business shares the Shadow Chancellor’s aim of a fairer economy. But too many of Labour’s policies would make this harder to achieve, harming the very people they are trying to help,” she said.