Russia divided over four-day week
At a conference of the International Labour Organisation in June, Russia's Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev proposed reducing the standard working week to four days in response to technological progress. Now the Russian Ministry of Labour is looking into whether the measure can be implemented in Russia. But the initiative has elicited a wave of criticism.
Is the country on the verge of bankruptcy?
Russians interpret the four-day-week as a symptom that the country is in crisis, according to the social psychologist Alexei Roshchin, commenting on newsru.com:
“The Russian people do no want more free time, they want to earn more. ... This is why the 'well-meaning initiative' is being viewed with growing concern. Everyone knows that the less you work the less you earn. ... And this on top of the paltry wages we earn! People are whispering to each other: 'Are things really this bad?' Medvedev has obviously forgotten that people have been living with capitalism for a long time now and have understood that if a company switches to a 'shorter working week' it means it's having problems or is even on the verge of bankruptcy. ... So what should people think about the prospect of it happening to the whole country? Are we really that close to bankruptcy?”
Employers way too greedy
Medvedev's initiative will only mean that Russia's employees have to do a full week's work in four days, warns Sergei Udalzsov, leader of the socialist opposition movement Left Front in Echo of Moscow:
“After four working days like that people will need a day to recover. So that cancels out the free day. Medvedev has put forward a dubious idea which - in view of the greediness of most employers - will not improve the situation of the workforce, but make it even worse. ... Our prime minister is of course citing experiences in European countries. ... But it should be noted that these countries have cut working hours, not just working days. However, Medvedev is making no mention of that.”