Reducing the Work Week

July 1 st 1983

A number of European countries are trying to expand employment by a reduction of the workweek. In March, German chemical workers agreed to reduce the 40-hour regular workweek for 55,000 workers aged 58 and over by four hours every other week, with a reduction to 36 hours per week after 1987. Belgium and the Netherlands are pioneering work-sharing arrangements in response to unemployment rates of about 15%. Belgian workers in processing, chemical, nonferrous-metals, and paper industries agreed to further shrink their workweek to 37 hours, while Dutch metal and chemical workers are negotiating for a 38-hour week. In both countries, unions agreed to accompanying cuts in wages. In Germany, chemical workers had their workweek trimmed with no reductions in pay. (Business Week, April 11, 1983)


Harry Antonides came to Canada in 1948, initially working as a farm hand and railway labourer. After over a decade working in a chemical plant in Sarnia, Ontario, Harry joined the newly forming Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC) in 1962 as a field representative. By 1970 Harry became director of research and education. In 1974, he was a founding member of the Work Research Foundation (now Cardus) and publisher of their sole publication, Comment magazine. A prolific writer and dynamic speaker, Harry delivered lectures all over North America and published numerous articles, reviews, and essays. He is author of several books on Christianity, labour, and economics, including Multinationals and the Peacable Kingdom (1978) and Stones for Bread: The Social Gospel and its Contemporary Legacy (1985). Harry is retired and lives with his wife Janet in Willowdale, Ontario.