The 40 Hour Workweek

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History of the Resolution

The 40 Hour Workweek was originally drafted at the United Nations Think Tank in the Celdonian Diplomatic Quarter. The think tank itself was originally created as a project of the Coalition of Anti-Capitalist Economies, though it is open to participation from all anti-capitalist nations - and even nations that do not count themselves as anti-capitalists but wish to work with others on a specific proposal.

The text of the resolution was written by a committee of several members of the think tank, drawing inspiration from the International Fair Trade Agreement and Convention 47 of the real life International Labor Organization. The final version was written by Free Soviets, who also did most of the campaigning to get it to the floor for a vote.

This resolution sparked a very emotionally charged debate within the UN forum and was one of the most hotly contested resolutions in UN history. It remains the most narrowly passed resolution, winning by a margin of 111 votes - or less than 1% of the total votes cast. But even that does not tell the full story of just how close this vote was. In the last remaining minutes of voting, The 40 Hour Workweek was actually looking like it would be the most narrowly rejected resolution in UN history. At one point in the last five minutes of voting the margin was at 29 votes against. It is only thanks to the literally last minute campaigning efforts of a few nations (including Free Soviets and Myrth) that several regional delegates were convinced to switch their votes in favor of this resolution, giving the whole resolution a remarkable "photo finish" aspect.

The wide ranging economic changes necessitated by the implementation of the 40-hour work week in some United Nations member states caused an economic downturn in many states, especially those with high levels of income inequality. These economic downturns resulted in what is called by some Nationstates' first global recession. Additionally, a few states attempted to take advantage of definitional loopholes to evade the intent of the resolution. Many nations left the UN following the passing of this resolution and the ensuing economic collapse. In many UN nations, however, the reslution was implemented as intended.

Text of the Resolution

The 40 Hour Workweek
A resolution to reduce income inequality and increase basic welfare.

Category: Social Justice Strength: Significant Proposed By: Free Soviets

  1. The maximum standard full-time workweek shall be set at 40 hours. Nations shall remain free to set their workweeks lower than this.
  2. No one may be contractually obligated to work more than 40 hours per week, except for the following exemptions,
    a) military personnel
    b) civil defense forces
    c) civilian emergency response personnel
    Excepting military personnel, these exemptions shall only apply during emergency situations.
  3. No one may be contractually obligated to remain on the worksite without pay.
  4. On call hours shall count against the 40 hour limit.
  5. Work exceeding 40 hours per week that is voluntarily undertaken shall not exceed a total of 80 hours per week, and shall be paid at a rate of at least time and a half or an equivalent pro-rata time off in lieu. Nations shall remain free to set their allowable overtime hours lower and their overtime pay rates higher than specified in this proposal.
  6. The 40 hour week shall be implemented in a manner that does not reduce the standard of living of the workers. Nations shall enact the laws needed to comply with the 40 hour week within 1 year of the passing of this resolution and they may phase in the changes over the course of up to 4 years. The necessary changes must be fully implemented within 5 years of the passing of this resolution.
  7. In time of declared emergencies the national government may suspend this directive to any sector of the workforce it deems essential to the effective running of the country for the duration of that emergency.

Votes For: 8,637
Votes Against: 8,526
Implemented: Sun May 23 2004
Repealed: 2006

Additional Materials