Over the past six years, Iceland has been quietly conducting a major economic experiment. More than 2,500 public sector employees – representing over 1% of the country’s entire working population – reduced their working hours from 40 hours per week to 35 or 36 hours, with no loss of pay.
Trials of shorter working weeks are not new: in recent years a number of ‘four-day week’ experiments have taken place around the world – from Microsoft’s trial in Japan to Unilever’s experiment in New Zealand. But Iceland’s two trials, which took place between 2015 and 2021 among employees of the country’s national government and Reykjavík City Council, are unparalleled in terms of scale and scope. Progress was meticulously monitored by Icelandic researchers, which generated an unrivalled amount of evidence on the impact of shorter working hours. This week the key findings were published in a joint report published by Alda (Association for Sustainable Democracy) and Autonomy. Continue reading →
As of Thursday afternoon, 23 million people in seven Chinese cities have been placed on quarantine due to the sudden outbreak of a deadly SARS-like virus called 2019-nCoV.
CNBC’s @onlyyoontv breaks down what’s happening on the ground in China with the coronavirus spreading on @CNBCTheExchange . What cities are closed, how many people are impacted, the precautions they’re taking and the huge impact on the Lunar New Year. pic.twitter.com/YFEHjQP0Cy
Sixteen-year-old Greta Thunberg, who began the global movement in which students around the world have walked out of their classrooms on a weekly basis since last fall to demand climate action, reported Tuesday that at least 1,351 separate strikes are now scheduled to take place all over the world on Friday. Continue reading →
Breaking with its past as one of the world’s top coal users, Wales announced it would end its use of all fossil fuels following the IPCC’s report on the climate crisis. (Photo: Walt Jabsco/Flickr/cc)
Climate action groups on Monday applauded the government of Wales for demonstrating that it is taking seriously the existential and planetary threat posed by fossil fuels by announcing that the country would end its extraction of coal.
Wales’ new proposed plan to reject all future coal mining applications is set to be finalized by the end of the year, a government spokesperson told the BBC last week, as part of the country’s new energy strategy which will aim to ensure that 70 percent of Wales’ energy is derived from renewable sources by 2030.Continue reading →
This article was originally published on December 11, 2014 on openDemocracy.
By Liz Murray
The EU/US Trade Deal poses a threat to Scottish Water’s plans to deprivatise failing PFI facilities.
A protest outside the Scottish Parliament against the smell at SeaField
Last week, a Europe-wide petition against TTIP, the controversial and aggressively neo-liberal free trade deal between the US and EU, reached 1 million signatures. More than 180,000 of those were from the UK. Another petition here in Scotland, calling on the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to oppose TTIP, gained almost 25,000 signatures.Opposition to TTIP is growing at an astonishing speed as the public discover how it threatens democracy, social justice, public services and national sovereignty.
Yesterday, Scotland’s people went to the polls to vote on a referendum with one question on it: “Should Scotland be an independent country?” The no votes ended up winning (at this time, it looks like a ten point victory), but it still was a historical vote in many ways. As we were reading the news about the returns, we were struck by the contrasts between the Scottish referendum and what’s happening here in the U.S.
Flag of Scotland (public domain) via Wikimedia Commons
The first thing that jumped out at us was the complete 180 degree difference between the U.S. secession movements and the Scottish independence movement as far as their view of the role of government goes. The Scots want more government spending on things such as education; they want the social safety net expanded or at the very least restored to where it was before the 2008 global crash; they want a stronger national health care system; they want a clean, non-nuclear energy plan; they want to remain in the E.U. but as a separate country – in other words, anything but the less government/no taxes/isolationist stance that we hear from secessionists here in the U.S.
The second thing is how easy Scotland makes it to vote. The polls were open for 16 hours; from 6 AM to 10 PM local time. Residents 16 and over were eligible to vote. Every step was taken to ensure that people would be able to vote. Compare this to our country, where the focus seems to be more on restricting the right to vote for large segments of the population through voter ID laws, fewer polling places and reduced voting hours.
The third thing was voter participation. A record number of people came to the polls. And, unlike here in the U.S. where the highest turnout we’ve seen in a national election in the last 100 years was 63%, turnout was estimated to be somewhere in the mid-80% range.
Occupy World Writes has to wonder what would happen in our country if we had such a motivated electorate and the same effort to make voting possible as we saw in Scotland yesterday. We have a dream…