Venezuela’s socialist government has ordered public workers to work a two-day week as an energy-saving measure in the crisis-hit South American OPEC country.
President Nicolas Maduro had already given most of Venezuela’s 2.8 million state employees Fridays off during April and May, to cut down on electricity consumption.
He said Venezuela had been badly hit by the El Nino weather phenomenon and would return to normal when it started raining again.
“We are requesting international help, technical and financial aid to help revert the situation,” he said. “We are managing the situation in the best possible way while we wait for the rains to return.”
“Several countries in the region have been affected by the drought, caused by El Nino. But Venezuela has the highest domestic consumption of energy.”
Workers will be paid for the days they are not on the job because of the government action.
The government is excluding workers in sensitive sectors, such as food. Schools will also close on Fridays.
Meanwhile Critics have derided Maduro for reducing the public sector’s working week, and argued that it would hurt national productivity at a time of recession and shortages.