Time to push for four-day working week, says new Ictu president

Callinan says unions should seek support for pilot programmes North and South

The trade union movement should campaign for the introduction of a four-day working week, according to the incoming president of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu).

In a message to delegates attending the Ictu biennial delegate conference, which opens in Belfast on Tuesday, Kevin Callinan said he wanted to see trade unions "secure support from business and government North and South for private and public sector four-day week pilot programmes".

He also urged that links be built between trade unions and organisations campaigning for the introduction of a four-day working week.

Mr Callinan, who is the general secretary of Fórsa, also said the trade union movement should "lead advocacy efforts for expanded access to remote, blended and hybrid working post-pandemic, alongside greater remote working protections".


He said Ictu should also “work with affiliate unions to drive campaigns for legislation on the right to disconnect and the right to flexible working, with strong enforcement mechanisms”.

Mr Callinan said the trade unions should produce and launch a research paper which would set out a new vision for the role of the Irish State post-Covid, and develop a single, common narrative to communicate this new vision.

He said it should also “develop a co-ordinated, thematic alternative to advocates of austerity and ‘fiscal rectitude’ as a response to the pandemic”.

Workers’ rights

Much of the first day of the conference will deal with Northern Ireland, with political party leaders and representatives setting out their views on workers' rights, said Ictu assistant general secretary Owen Reidy.

A private session on an Ictu executive report dealing with its internal disputes over the past two years, to take place on Tuesday, is likely to address a row involving the second-level teaching union ASTI over “spheres of influence” and the right to represent teachers in particular schools.

While ASTI is an affiliate of Ictu in recent months it has issued legal correspondence and warned of a threat of court action over a dispute and subsequent appeal process dealing with the “spheres of influence “ issue in schools.

The move by an affiliate to warn of potential legal action against Ictu, the umbrella organisation for the movement, is understood to be unprecedented.

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is the former Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent