Saturday, December 31, 2005

Adiós Siesta

A much loved bulwark of spanish culture has fallen victim to the insatiable monster that is globalisation.

Spain has introduced a new law which limits civil service lunch breaks to one hour, effectively ending their “siesta culture“. Mr Jordi Sevilla, Minister for Public Administration and a father of three, said the aims of the law were to put an end to the “chaotic hours” worked in the civil service and allow Spaniards to reconcile work and family life.

He said he hoped private sector companies would follow suit. “We are trying to set an example by rationalising the working hours of civil servants,” he said. “Henceforth, lunchtime will be from 12 to 1pm, like the rest of Europe, instead of between 2 and 4pm. This will allow civil servants to leave work at six, instead of eight or nine in the evening.” Mr Sevilla said he wanted civil servants to “achieve the same amount of work in less time”. Let’s hope they haven't heard of bench-marking!

The Círculo de Empresarios, a business lobby group, said Spain’s long lunches were an inefficient way to break up the day. “This is costing the economy as much as 8 per cent of gross domestic product”. Spain ranks 10th in the number of hours worked per year, although productivity lags far behind countries that work fewer hours.

Some companies have already adapted. Coca-Cola Ibérica employees get 45 minutes for lunch and clock off at 6pm. Still, change will not be easy. “The lunch is the main way personal relationships are established,” says Alejandra Moore, a communications consultant. “I cannot imagine achieving anything meaningful over a 45-minute lunch.” Presumably he’s talking about chatting up a stranger and having sufficient time to close the encounter with a leg-over.

The wife will be happy if it means that shops are actually open in the afternoon, when she wants to shop. We’ll be able to drop the pretence that we’re very interested in church architecture, when all we’re actually looking for is a cool place to kill some time during the hottest part of the day.

Hopefully this will also change the Spanish habit of having dinner very late at night - presumably leading to chronic indigestion and disrupted sleep patterns. Well that’s what I experience when I attempt to copy the local habits.

No comments:

Blog Archive