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Netherlands: CNV trade union confederation is considering moving to a 30-hour working week
Planet Labor, 18 December 2019, n°11556 - www.planetlabor.com

Christelijk Nationaal Vakverbond, the National Federation of Christian Trade Unions (CNV) is the country’s second largest trade union body with a support base of over 350,000 members and it has opened a debate on the potential for reducing weekly working hours down to 30. In a statement from 14 December (here in Dutch) the union recalls, “We have seen weekly working hours reduced from 40 to 38 and then again to 36. We should progress to the next stage so workers can strike a better work-life balance.” The CNV’s arguments are effectively that a better life balance has advantages in terms of fewer sick leave periods and burnout events, improved productivity, and greater gender equality. The union intends to negotiate for such a measure during the collective convention negotiations on the premise that salary levels can be maintained via the financial gains secured from higher productivity. The CNV has drawn from data linked to its survey of 3,000 workers that shows ‘approximately 60% of respondents believe they will reach retirement age in better health if they work a 30-hour week and that this will lower the number of sick leave periods.’ Employers reject the proposal, arguing that reductions in working time are already possible by way of individual employee-employer negotiations. The VNO-NCW employers’ body, which includes more than 80% of medium-sized companies and almost all of the larger companies and covers the vast proportion of sectors in the economy, has pointed to the problem of such a measure in so far as the country is already undergoing a manpower shortage situation.