Spain's Prime Minister set to 'drop siesta' to shorten working day by two hours

Mariano Rajoy: 'I will find a consensus to make sure the working day ends at 6pm'

Matt Payton
Monday 04 April 2016 10:06
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Revellers sleep on a bench after the second running of the bulls during the San Fermin festival in Pamplona
Revellers sleep on a bench after the second running of the bulls during the San Fermin festival in Pamplona

The Spanish Prime Minister has announced moves to cut the working day by two hours and bring an end to the traditional siesta, in an attempt to bring the country into line with its European counterparts.

Mariano Rajoy, the head of the centre-right coalition government, wants to scrap the traditional extended midday break.

Mr Rajoy said: "I will find a consensus to make sure the working day ends at 6pm."

While the siesta is no longer universally observed - its impact on the length of an average working day can still be felt.

The siesta was founded historically on the basis of allowing the country's largely agricultural workers to avoid the searing midday heat, the Times reports.

Despite working longer hours than their German counterparts, statistics from the OECD show Spanish workers' productivity is much lower.

A 2013 Spanish parliamentary commission said: "We need more flexible working hours, to cut our lunch breaks, to streamline business meetings by setting time limits for them, and to practise and demand punctuality."

The report explained cutting the siesta would raise the quality of life, raise the low birth rates and reduce marriage breakdowns.

It is thought Mr Rajoy is backing this popular decision in an attempt to win votes in the upcoming general election in June.

Sweden's 6 hour work day explained

He is also looking to return Spain back to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) as it is currently one hour ahead of London, the same as eastern European countries such as the Czech Republic.

This odd time arrangement dates back to 1942 when former dictator General Franco showed his support for Hitler's Nazi regime by adopting German Time.

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