Dáil Éireann - Volume 418 - 30 April, 1992

Written Answers. - Costs of Reduction in Working Week.

71. Mr. Enright asked the Minister for Labour if he will commission a study of the costs and benefits of a further reduction in the working week to 38 hours; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Labour (Mr. Cowen): The Framework Agreement on Hours of Work negotiated under the Programme for National Recovery provided for a reduction of working hours by one hour in cases where the normal working week was at or above 40 hours. This agreement has generally been implemented throughout the economy.

Any move towards making a further reduction in the working week would be a matter for negotiation and agreement between all the interests involved. This was discussed in the negotiations on the Programme for Economic Social Progress but agreement was not reached on the issue. The Programme states that the ICTU have indicated that they will, in [2251] the event of negotiations for a further Agreement, be seeking a general reduction in working time in the context of international developments and the economic and social situation in Ireland.

I do not have any plans at present to commission a study along the lines suggested but the parties negotiating a future Agreement could choose whatever studies they deemed appropriate. The costs and benefits of any further reduction would in any case be primarily a matter for individual companies and employments.