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In this video, Mr. Beat explores why most of us have a 40-hour work week. Also, why the heck do we still work 40 hours a week?
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Why do we work 40 hours a week, or 8 hours a day?
Well, throughout most of human history, the work schedule was more fluid. Take the hunter gatherers. Hunters hunted when they needed to hunt. Gatherers gathered when they needed to...you know...gather. And then once agriculture became a big deal, farmers plowed their fields, planted their seeds, harvested their crops, and fed their animals, as needed. Even today, it’s rather ridiculous to think of farmers clocking in to work at 9:00 and clocking out at 5. If anything, there are times of the year where they are just constantly working.
During the Industrial Revolution, those machines helped, but factory owners still greatly relied on the productivity of their workers. Without their workers, they would be screwed, as those expensive machines would just be collecting dust. So factory owners kept their factories open all day long and forced, er...I mean, ASKED their workers to work as much as possible. This led to the average factory worker working 90 hours a week.
What’s crazy is that the better the technology got, the harder the workers had to work. When more and more struggling farmers fled the countryside to the cities to seek work in the early 1800s, soon there were too many available workers, and so factory owners now had the leverage. This is why they began to get away with treating their workers like crap. Factory conditions sucked. Often, factories were poorly ventilated, so the air was dirty. They were also poorly lit. Workers were on their feet all day. And since the machines were often very dangerous, all of this combined led to many injuries on the job.
Needless to say, eventually the workers began to unite to demand better working conditions. After all, the factory owners would be screwed if ALL of them decided not to go into work. And thus, the labor union was born.
#8hourworkday #laborunions #history