In a desperate attempt to save electricity, drought-stricken Venezuela has introduced a new concept to the workplace calendar: the five-day weekend.
President Nicolás Maduro has decided to furlough the country’s public employees — who account for a third of the labor force — for the bulk of the week, so they can sit through rolling blackouts at home rather than in the office.
“The public sector will work Monday and Tuesday, while we go through these critical and extreme weeks,” he said on his weekly presidential broadcast.
This assumes that Venezuela’s rainy season will comply with that timetable and rescue the country’s crippled hydroelectric plants.
Primary schools also will close on Fridays. Blackouts lasting at least four hours have been imposed across much of the country, leaving shopping malls in the dark and scarce food supplies at restaurants and markets at risk of spoiling.
Within a few hours of his announcement on Tuesday night, Maduro got a troubling glimpse of what happens when his emergency rationing measures go on a little too long.