The petition had gathered over 10,000 signatures, the second highest after the petition to make Luxembourgish the first official and administrative language.
Denny Kanizsa and Tom Mehlen, who submitted the paid leave petition, argued that people everywhere complain they cannot find the right work-life balance, and that their family lives suffer. They therefore proposed a 6th week of holidays for the 41% of private sector employees who don’t fall under a collective work contract.
They also mentioned the long hours that cross-border workers spend in commuting and the rise of mental health issues among employees. Five more vacation days would help private sector employees to recharge their batteries, in the petitioners’ view.
Parliament wary of the proposal
Taina Bofferding, a LSAP MP and trade unionist, emphasised the upcoming law on moral harassment and considered reforming the holiday for family reasons. The former trade unionist and centre right CSV MP, Marc Spautz, considered that these extra days off would not help organising one’s family life. Aly Kaes, CSV MP and also former trade unionist, suggested a rethink of the working time.
The Greens (through MP Josée Lorsché) have also rallied with their coalition partners and said the labour market had changed profoundly and such a proposal would not suit today’s world. Only déi Lénk supported the proposal.
Collective bargaining needed, not laws
The authors of the petition considered a legal change as the only way forward. They argued that because over 40% of private sector employees are not covered by a collective work contract (which usually would cover the number of holidays in a company), these people would only get the strict minimum as set down in law.
Schmit argued in favour of the collective bargaining model that used to be a corner stone for Luxembourg’s labour relations- even though that model has come under severe strain in several sectors over the past decade. He talked of creating more incentives for both employers and employees to negotiate collective work contracts, without specifying how that would work. He announced a report on the different collective work contracts in Luxembourg. The real problem was, according to Schmit, the rhythm and intensity of work. Making working times more flexible and emancipating employees on their working time was a complicated discussion and were still ongoing.
The authors of the petition argued that other avenues to reduce working time should not exclude considering the increase of holidays.
You can find the original article (in French) here.