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Uruguay: unions campaign for shorter working hours

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15 August, 2023Manufacturing unions in Uruguay, including several IndustriALL affiliates, have launched a campaign for shorter working hours, with rallies, tripartite negotiations and a parliamentary bill.

On 3 August, the Confederation of Manufacturing Unions of Uruguay ran a seminar to review and analyse the possibility of reducing the country’s weekly working hours. Participants discussed the various ways to foster a discussion so that necessary agreements could be reached.

They said that shortening the working week from 48 to 40 hours would constitute a cultural change, one that would improve workers’ health and lifestyle and give them more time for their education and their families.

Representatives of the 14 unions in the Confederation shared experiences of what has happened in countries in Latin America and Europe that have already reduced the working week. These experiences will then be shared as part of the negotiations that will take place within each branch of industry’s tripartite wage council.

Carlos Bico, UOC general secretary, said:

“We share experiences so that we can put our proposal to the wage councils. We’re analyzing the contracts signed with the companies; we want to show that the shorter working hours won’t affect companies’ productivity, and that it can be done without lowering workers’ wages.”

The unions will campaign for their initiative to be passed as a law in the national parliament, and plan to hold street rallies. A march will take place on 31 August with a rally in front of the country’s Labour Ministry. Their main aims are for the working week to be reduced to 40 hours and to defend domestic manufacturing, employment and wages.

Marino Vani, IndustriALL regional secretary, said:

"This is an excellent and much-needed initiative. The government and employers need to come up with concrete measures and laws to reduce working hours without adversely affecting wages. This will help to drive industrial development and ensure better income distribution in the country. We need to expand the labour market and this is one way of doing it.”