Earlier this month, President Maduro gave public sector employees Fridays off to minimize power usage in the ongoing energy crisis. Apparently, the extra day off didn’t help enough, so those 2.8 million government employees will now have five days off each week.
The latest change in the work week came from Vice-president Aristobulo Isturiz, who announced that state employees should also take Wednesdays and Thursdays off. “There will be no work in the public sector on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, except for fundamental and necessary tasks,” Isturiz proclaimed on his weekly program on national television, according to Reuters.
The crisis-hit South American OPEC country has been dealing with a prolonged drought that has reduced water levels at the country’s main dam and hydroelectric plant in Guri to near-critical levels. Rolling power outages and water shortages have hit the country’s 30 million citizens particularly hard.
A crippling recession, shortages of some of the basics — such as milk and medicines — soaring prices and long lines at stores that are still open are adding to the misery. Food in refrigerators is spoiling, televisions remain off as people try to stay cool in their sweltering homes.
While the two-day work week only applies to government employees, it doesn’t mean that the other 28.8 million people living in Venezuela aren’t being affected. Many governmental jobs are tied in some way to the public, and not having their services to rely on is also a hardship.
Nicolas Maduro succeeded the late Hugo Chavez as president in 2013, and Maduro is now facing strong opposition to remove him with a recall referendum. The stress Maduro is under has resulted in his appealing to the people for their understanding and support, but it may be too late.