INDEPENDENT NEWS

Ward labours the point for long weekend

Published: Tue 28 Oct 2003 06:47 AM
Ward labours the point for long weekend
Green MP Mike Ward has endorsed the Government's planned work-life balance 'engagement process', and urged New Zealanders to have a good think about their quality of life on Labour Day, 65 years after New Zealand introduced the 40-hour week.
Mr Ward said New Zealand culture has been transformed by two decades of employment reforms as people have been forced to work far too hard to notice that their quality of life has been weakened by the encroachment of work into time better spent for recreation.
"The Government's attempts to redress the work-life imbalance has to be of great benefit for all New Zealanders, even if it just inspires us to think and talk about our quality of life," said Mr Ward.
"Simply juggling the hours won't do the trick though, there must be a serious attempt to reduce the hours people spend working and increase the hours people can spend living.
"This weekend marks 65 years since the 40-hour week was introduced but New Zealanders seem to have lost sight of what Labour Day is supposed to honour.
"It seems absurd that in an age of mass-production, computerisation and a flood of labour-saving devices, that we spend more time in paid employment than ever before. Mum and Dad are working far too long in jobs to accumulate an ever-widening array of possessions that they hardly get the time to enjoy," he said.
Mr Ward swapped an overworked teaching career 26 years ago for a life "seriously devoted to fun, making beautiful stuff and pursuing adventures".
"Choosing time, leisure and interesting experiences ahead of possessions may not be the only way to avoid stress, depression and burnout but at least you get to spend some time for yourself, instead of working for someone else.
"I acknowledge the pressures faced by low-income families to make ends meet, but by increasing the minimum wage and by making flexible working hours more available in the workplace New Zealand can work towards a family-friendly and sustainable solution.
"There is a desperate need for a culture shift that demands a dramatic reduction in consumerism. We all need to campaign for a more interesting and sustainable range of lifestyles so our children and grandchildren can find the time to really enjoy the experience of living in this lovely country.
"When we foster a culture that appreciates people for their quality of life rather than their quantity of possessions, we may get wind of the fact we've been working far too hard to notice what has happened to the quality of life in New Zealand for ourselves and our families," said Mr Ward.
ENDS

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