Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Working Week Length.

7.

asked the Minister for Labour if he will consider shortening the working week in order to alleviate the present very serious unemployment problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

The Deputy will appreciate that any question of a general change in working hours and the effect of such a change on remuneration would be matters for negotiation between trade unions and employers under collective bargaining procedures. Working hours are dealt with in the various national agreements, including that in operation at present. The implication in the Deputy's question that reduced standard working hours would alleviate present unemployment is, to say the least, a questionable one; a number of other factors have to be taken into account.

Finally, I would like to point out that where excessive levels of overtime are being worked it would be advantageous for an employer, where feasible, to recruit extra workers and thereby benefit under the premium employment programme.

While I would not necessarily advocate this course, I would like to ask the Minister what steps are being taken by the Government to try to alleviate this rapidly increasing unemployment figure? Surely any suggestion made is worthy of consideration at this stage?

This suggestion is more appropriate to ordinary negotiations between employers and unions. It would not be welcomed by either of these interests were the State to suggest an enforced reduction in the hours of work.

They will eventually seek shorter hours as has been done elsewhere.

With union consent and agreement.