The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Time for a Vacation but ... Who’s Got the Money, Who’s Got the Time?

Jul 16, 2001

It’s time for a vacation.

We certainly need it. No matter what job we have or where we work, it’s time to replenish ourselves. And what nicer way but to do it by getting away from work, resting our bodies and clearing our minds!

Unfortunately, we often run into problems. The week we want has already been taken by someone else, and the company doesn’t hire enough vacation replacements to let us take our vacation when we want. Or we’re all given the same week when the plant or office shuts down but it doesn’t fit the time our spouses get.

Don’t even think about trying to arrange a family vacation with the kids once they start working a summer job. And forget about having enough time so we can really see a little bit of the world.

And then there’s the problem that everyone knows only too well: too much work left around the house to get away. Vacation time is when we catch up on all the things we didn’t have the time to do when working.

The fact is, we don’t have enough time for ourselves.

Why not? Every single one of us should have a full month of vacation in the summer. And work time should be organized so we could all take it off in either July or August if we wanted.

Utopia? No, not at all. Other countries–not nearly as wealthy as this one–already schedule vacations like this. In almost every country of Europe, as well as in Japan, workers have more time off than we do. So why not here?

There is no material reason for this. Labor productivity is higher here. But the fact is, we take a smaller share of what we produce. Not only do we have less time for ourselves, our standard of living is actually lower than what workers in a number of other countries enjoy. This may be the wealthiest country in the world, but a much larger part of the wealth that workers produce by their labor is taken here by the capitalist class.

In countries where workers have more time than we have, they usually gained it through struggles of the whole working class. They gained it because they put their own needs first.

The right to a real vacation, in countries where every worker has this right, was a social conquest won by the whole working class for everyone. It doesn’t depend on who your boss is or how long you worked for that particular boss. If you have worked during the year, you are entitled.

If there is enough wealth in other countries for workers to enjoy a real vacation and more time for themselves during the year, there’s certainly enough here for us to have the same thing. But, as with so many other things, the question is whether we put our needs first. The bosses certainly don’t do it for us.

We are the ones whose work builds this country. Our muscle and brain power make it run. Let us take the time to enjoy what we have built.