Following a report by "Globes", over the weekend, the bureau of Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom anounced that thousands of Internet users joined a Facebook group for introducing a long weekend in Israel. However, "Globes" found that in fact only 150 people had joined. The minister's bureau explained that over 2,000 people had viewed a post on website "Layla Calcali" on the subject last night.
Shalom's private member's bill calls for an amendment to the Work Hours Law such that the workweek will run from Monday through Friday afternoon, with the workday extended by 30 minutes. When daylight savings time is in effect, the workday on Friday will end at 2 pm, and during winter time, it will end at 1:30 pm. Saturday and Sunday will be defined as days of rest.
Haredim (ultra-orthodox) do not intend to obstruct the bill. Shalom has already discussed the matter with Shas chairman and Minister of the Interior Eli Yishai, who said that he would review the issue. Since Saturday has become a shopping day for many Israelis, the haredi community may prefer to promote the bill, which will help prevent the desecration of the Sabbath by moving commerce on Saturday to Sunday.
Shalom is due to meet representatives of employers and other parties to promote his bill.
"A long weekend comprising Saturday and Sunday will change the country from dramatically," Shalom told "Globes" on Thursday. "The fact that people will have a long weekend may calm the country down. The feeling of freedom will enable people to arrive more relaxed at work on Monday and have more motivation."
In addition to extending time for recreation and culture, Shalom lists other economic advantages for his proposal. "Adding work hours during the week will lead to greater productivity and output. It will be possible to work with international markets better and more effectively, which will give better results and dramatically effect commercial activity in Israel. All banking systems, the capital market, and commercial systems will be synchronized for work with the world," he says.
A shorter workweek will also result in a long school day and school lunch programs. The switch to a shorter workweek is part of Shalom's plan to change Israel's priorities on the basis of a switch to a civilian agenda.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on February 28, 2011
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