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By boosting the blockade, Spain is experimenting for 4 days a week

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MADRID (AP) – After years of waiting, Danae De Vries is one step ahead of her dream of becoming a theater coach.

Ironically, he owes it to the epidemic. After last year ‘s severe blockade, which shut down the Spanish economy for weeks, the owners of a small restaurant chain in Madrid offered De Vries a one – day cut in his weekly work schedule.

Already struggling to make ends meet in a city where rents were rising, the 28-year-old was hesitant at first and then frustrated when she was told her salary would remain unchanged.

“Now I have time to work, to see my family, to see my friends, to find enough time to learn,” he said. “It is wonderful to have time, not to rush everywhere, to find a little inner peace.”

A happier, more motivated De Vries is better for his boss, Maria Alvarez, the entrepreneur who ran his two restaurant businesses when he offered a four-day rotation shift. Elvares, the mother of two babies, նրա her new partner at La Francachela, were both struggling to continue the business without childcare support.

“There was a feeling that society had turned its back on families who had betrayed us,” Alvarez explained. “As business owners, we had to find some solutions for our business, our employees և and our personal lives.”

Attempts to reduce one working day per week are going to take place in Spain, the first country in Europe. The three-year pilot project will use € 50 million ($ 59 million) from the EU’s major coronavirus recovery fund to compensate the average 200 companies as they change their workforce or restructure production to accommodate a 32-hour workweek. ,

The funds will be used to subsidize all additional costs for employers in the first year of the trial, and then government assistance will be reduced by 50% և 25% each year, according to the Más País Progressive Party project, which is underway. ,

The only condition is that the transformation lead to a real net reduction in working hours, while maintaining full-time wages, explained Hector Tejero, legislator of Más País at the Madrid Regional Assembly.

“It does not use European funds for Spaniards to work less, but to see how we can improve the productivity and competitiveness of our companies,” said Tejero.

The arguments in favor of the move also bring benefits to the overall economy. The mass transition over the three-day weekend will lead to greater consumption, especially in the field of leisure tourism, which is the backbone of the Spanish economy.

Reducing working hours from 40 to 35 weeks a week would lead to a 1.5% GDP growth of 60 560,000 new jobs, according to a study published in the Cambridge Economic Journal earlier this year. The study notes that wages would also increase by 3.7% nationally, especially to women who work part-time more often.

Delsol, in southern Spain, invested € 400,000 last year to reduce the working hours of its 190 employees, and has since announced a 28% reduction in absenteeism. People choose to go to the bank or see their doctor on their work day. Their sales grew by 20% last year, և no employee has resigned since the new schedule was adopted.

Critics say the epidemic-stricken economy is not the best case scenario. Last year, with a 10.8% drop in GDP, the worst since the 1930s civil war, Spain suffered from periodic blockades and an almost total freeze on international travel. Some experts argue that the priority should be the market fixation of the country’s able-bodied function, which attracts one of the highest unemployment rates and is undermined by uncertain, low-wage jobs.

Carlos Victoria of the ESADE Business School also warned against a completely different approach to the offer. “There are probably industries or economic sectors where the reduction of working hours does not necessarily lead to increased productivity,” said the economic policy researcher.

But Mas Pais argues that it is best to first try to decide in the future how to scale it, or do it at all.

However, not all unions fully support the project, the Conservatives have been conservative, and the CEOE, Spain’s main business association, has so far offered a lukewarm response to the project.

However, at least half a dozen companies have already expressed interest, according to Tegero, who says the pilot will not be operational until at least September, when mass vaccination will help boost the economy.

“In Spain, we moved from the current region, where people had to be in the office for a very long time to be in front of a computer, at home for a longer time,” said El Frances of La Francescella. “People are getting more and more angry because long-distance work alone is not going to solve our problems from a broader perspective.”

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