Venezuela state employees to work 2-day week to save energy

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
Two-Day Week for Venezuela's Public Workers Amid Energy Crisis

CARACAS, April 26 (Reuters) - Venezuela's socialist government ordered public workers on Tuesday 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.

"From tomorrow, for at least two weeks, we are going to have Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays as non-working days for the public sector," Maduro said on his weekly television program.

Drought has reduced water levels at Venezuela's main dam and hydroelectric plant in Guri to near-critical levels. The dam provides for about two-thirds of the nation's energy needs.

Water shortages and electricity cuts have added to the hardships of Venezuela's 30 million people, already enduring a brutal recession, shortages of basics from milk to medicines, soaring prices, and long lines at shops.

See more from the unprecedented power cut:

13 PHOTOS
Venezuela 2 day week
See Gallery
Venezuela state employees to work 2-day week to save energy
A girl does her homework by candlelight at his home during a power cut in San Cristobal, in the state of Tachira, Venezuela, April 25, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Eduardo Ramirez. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A man cooks near lit candles at his home during a power cut in San Cristobal, in the state of Tachira, Venezuela, April 25, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Eduardo Ramirez.
A watchman uses his phone's light at a condominium's checkpoint during a power cut in San Cristobal, in the state of Tachira, Venezuela, April 25, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Eduardo Ramirez.
Venezuelan opposition leader and Governor of Miranda state Henrique Capriles shows a copy of the form to collect signatures to begin the process of seeking a referendum to remove President Nicolas Maduro during a news conference in Caracas, Venezuela, April 26, 2016. REUTERS/Marco Bello
Men remain sitting at a bakery during a power cut in the border state of San Cristobal, 600 km west of Caracas on April 25, 2016. Recession-hit Venezuela will turn off the electricity supply in its 10 most populous states for four hours a day for 40 days to deal with a severe power shortage, the government said Thursday. / AFP / GEORGE CASTELLANOS (Photo credit should read GEORGE CASTELLANOS/AFP/Getty Images)
A sign on the counter of a stationary store reads 'No lights until 12pm' as the owner works in Charallave, Venezuela, on Monday, April 25, 2016. Venezuelans took the first day of rolling national power cuts in stride yesterday. Residents of Charallave, a commuter city about 60 kilometers south of Caracas, have lived with daily blackouts for the past two months, shutting down many shops, factories and public offices. Photographer: Wilfredo Riera/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Taxi driver Luis Bernal speaks to a reporter while waiting in line to buy groceries in Charallave, Venezuela, on Monday, April 25, 2016. Bernal said power outrages have damaged his refrigerator, forcing him to pay 40,000 bolivars ($110 at the weakest legal exchange rate, or more than three monthly wages) to fix it. Venezuelans took the first day of rolling national power cuts in stride yesterday. Residents of Charallave, a commuter city about 60 kilometers south of Caracas, have lived with daily blackouts for the past two months, shutting down many shops, factories and public offices. Photographer: Wilfredo Riera/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A boy uses a flshlight during a power cut at a bakery in the border state of San Cristobal, 600 km west of Caracas on April 25, 2016. Recession-hit Venezuela will turn off the electricity supply in its 10 most populous states for four hours a day for 40 days to deal with a severe power shortage, the government said Thursday. / AFP / GEORGE CASTELLANOS (Photo credit should read GEORGE CASTELLANOS/AFP/Getty Images)
Cars wait in line at a gas station during a power cut in the border state of San Cristobal, Venezuela, 600 km west of Caracas on April 25, 2016. Recession-hit Venezuela will turn off the electricity supply in its 10 most populous states for four hours a day for 40 days to deal with a severe power shortage, the government said Thursday. / AFP / GEORGE CASTELLANOS (Photo credit should read GEORGE CASTELLANOS/AFP/Getty Images)
An employee of a butcher shop waits during a power cut in Santa Teresa, Miranda State, Venezuela, on April 25, 2016. Recession-hit Venezuela will turn off the electricity supply in its 10 most populous states for four hours a day for 40 days to deal with a severe power shortage, the government said Thursday. It is the latest drastic measure to alleviate a severe electricity crisis which President Nicolas Maduro and his government blame on a drought caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon. Critics say it is the result of years of economic mismanagement. / AFP / FEDERICO PARRA (Photo credit should read FEDERICO PARRA/AFP/Getty Images)
Residents of municipality El Hatillo walk to join to a protest blocking the streets around their neighborhood, after 24 hour without electricity just outside of Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday, April 23, 2016. The power outages have compounded other problems of daily life. The country is already among the most violent in the world, and streets become doubly scary when pitch black. Power outages also knock out service from the water tanks with electric pumps that many Venezuelans use to deal with chronic cuts to running water.(AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
Residents of municipality El Hatillo block the streets around of their neighbor in protest after 24 hour without electricity just outside of Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday, April 23, 2016. The power outages have compounded other problems of daily life. The country is already among the most violent in the world, and streets become doubly scary when pitch black. Power outages also knock out service from the water tanks with electric pumps that many Venezuelans use to deal with chronic cuts to running water.(AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

Maduro, 53, who succeeded the late Hugo Chavez in 2013 and is facing an opposition push to remove him through a recall referendum, appealed for understanding and support.

"The Guri has virtually become a desert. With all these measures, we are going to save it," he said, adding that the daily drop in water level had slowed to 10 centimeters from 20.

OPPOSITION DERISION

After months of unscheduled outages, the government began programmed electricity rationing this week across most of Venezuela, except the capital Caracas, prompting sporadic protests in some cities.

Maduro has also changed the clocks so there is half an hour more daylight in the evening, urged women to reduce use of appliances like hairdryers, and ordered malls to provide their own generators.

Regarding the public sector measure, the government is excluding workers in sensitive sectors such as food.

Full salaries will still be paid despite the two-day week.

Critics have derided Maduro for giving state employees days off, arguing it would hurt national productivity and was unlikely to save electricity because people would simply go home and turn on appliances there instead.

"Maduro says that 'we in government don't stop working for a second'. Of course. Except for Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays!" satirized Leonardo Padron, a columnist for pro-opposition El Nacional newspaper, via Twitter.

Officials said the El Nino weather phenomenon is responsible for Venezuela's electricity woes. But critics accuse the government of inadequate investment, corruption, inefficiency and failure to diversify energy sources.

(Reporting by Daniel Kai and Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Toni Reinhold)

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners