At the start of autumn months, the United Automobile Workers (UAW) launched a strike amid contract negotiations with domestic carmakers. Initial demands were lofty, designed to force the industry into making compromises that benefited union labor, and included things like a four-day work week for those on the assembly line.
While dubbed ridiculous by some Americans, Lamborghini now appears to be offering its workers a three-day weekend in Europe. The involved unions claimed it was the first time in the European automotive sector reduced hours while simultaneously increasing wages.
Italian trade unions FIOM and FIM-CISL were said to be pleased with the deal, according to Reuters, with the groups citing an unprecedented level of progress in contract negotiations.
“Work less and work better, this is the principle that guided this negotiation, and which is part of a comprehensive reasoning,” a statement from FIOM and FIM-CISL said.
Production workers on a rotating two-shift schedule will alternate a five-day week with a four-day week, overall cutting 22 days of work each year, the unions said.
Those on a three-shift [rotation], which includes night shifts too, will have a five-day week alternated with two four-day weeks, cutting their yearly working days by 31.
There have been studies knocking around for ages suggesting that similar scheduling reduces employee burnout and may even make a workforce more cost-effective over time. It’s also a nice way to reduce labor when not needed that doesn’t require the kind of headlines that include terms like “widespread layoffs.”
Volkswagen Group, which currently owns Lamborghini, began toying with four day work weeks in 1993 at six European factories. Rather than issuing layoffs, VW put together a labor contract that started as an experiment but ended up being renewed several times. The current deal with Lamborghini is part of a broader renegotiation of the framework and may not have gotten green lit if Volkswagen had not seen some level of success running workers on reduced schedules in the past. European nations have likewise been more accepting of the concept than the United States.
At the start of 2023, Italian international banking organization Intesa Sanpaolo floated a similar premise to its workforce and claimed 70 percent of the 30,000 employees who had the option of running four-day weeks requested them. Panasonic has also been offering four-day weeks to some employees since 2022.
Though Europe seems to be the region most interested in having a third day off. Reuters even stated that Italian aerospace and defense contractor Leonardo was working with unions to establish “flexible working benefits” to team members on production lines. While that may not turn into normalizing shorter weekly schedules, it’s something most Italian businesses appear willing to discuss.
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