There’s a common Russian phrase from the darker days of the Imperium: “they pretend to pay us and we pretend to work”.
How much is contained within that one phrase!
In just ten words the breakdown of an entire social contract is evidenced.
The world is built on social contracts: agreements we make as a collective about how we should behave, what is owed to us and others, and how we should live.
These social contracts are more powerful than laws because they often dictate how our laws are written.
Today we are facing our own breakdown of a social contract.
The official workweek was created for a time when most people worked in factories. Collectives and unions fought hard to create the weekend, the 40-hour workweek.
But in today’s connected and overconnected world, faced with increases in productivity and work-weeks that now bleed into our regular lives, we are facing a crisis of over-utilization of our primary resource: our people.
People are tired. They are burnt out. They lack the ability to spend cherished time with their families focused on them and not on work.
The social contract of work in our world is broken.
And while laws may be less powerful than social contracts, they can be used as tools to nudge those contracts in a different direction.
Today, I announce in Décret 3792 that the following shall apply to ALL employees of the Government of the Empire of Australia:
- A 4-day, 32-hour workweek shall be the standard for employees of the government.
- Supervisors are forbidden to contact their supervisees on days when they are not scheduled to work except in emergency circumstances.
- All indications of emergency circumstances will be reviewed by the Judiciaire du Travail and if they are found to be non-emergent, the supervisor will be personally fined and the fine paid to the worker who’s time was violated.
- All employees, regardless of status or performance, will receive a wage increase equal to inflation each year.
The government shall have 60 days to enact these changes before they take full effect.
While these changes will not completely alter the social contract in our world, it is my strong belief that the market pressures created by the largest employer in the Empire will have a domino effect that will influence others to make the same changes out of the necessity of staying competitive.
Always a student of the world, I will continue to study how this change impacts our mutual agreements of how we live and will make further changes as needed to ensure that our people are treated the way that nature intends and demands.