working days

Monday, February 04, 2008

No to five working days! Proposals are being passed around in government circles to reduce the number of working days in a week from six to five. Those who are in favour of this policy cite, among other things, the tremendous progress made by countries that observe a five-day working week. They forget that after World War II, the citizens of the defeated countries worked an extra four hours daily without claiming overtime or extra wages. They also forget that in advanced countries, the attitude to work is vastly different than that in our country, and productivity levels are maintained regardless of how many days they work in a week. That seems unlikely in Pakistan given how everyone from the political parties to the awaam wants to shut everything down for days if things don’t go according to their wishes. It is also claimed that this policy will result in a huge decrease in electricity consumption. But what about the extra electricity that will be used when offices and factories work extra hours every day to maintain output? And as for the enormous saving in fuel that is expected, the exact opposite will occur. All provincial government employees will head to their hometowns for the longer weekend, consuming more fuel per person than is the case right now. An extra day off during the week will also be the last straw for the industrialists who are already reeling from the rioting, looting and burning that took place last month, not to mention the frequent power outages that have negatively affected production. Instead of reducing the number of working days in a week, perhaps we should get rid of some of the many public holidays we observe each year.