In Brief

Why Venezuela is imposing a two-day week

Almost three million public sector workers to stay home in a bid to allay electricity shortage

Tuesday is the new Friday for government employees in Venezuela, who will now only work two days a week until the country's energy crisis is resolved.

"From tomorrow, for at least two weeks, we are going to have Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays as non-working days for the public sector," President Nicolas Maduro announced in a televised address to the nation.

A severe drought has reduced water supplies in the country's main hydroelectric dam to dangerous lows. Venezuela has been struggling to cope with the resulting energy shortage since February, when shops were instructed to shorten their opening hours.

Hospital and state-run grocery workers will be exempt from the new timetable and all workers will be paid a full salary. Primary and secondary schools will also close on Fridays, Deutsche Welle reports.

Most of Venezuela's 2.8 million public sector workers have been on a four-day week since 6 April, but the new measures indicate an increasing urgency to the crisis.

Venezuelans are also facing rolling blackouts to cut down on electricity consumption. Starting next week, power supplies will be cut for four hours a day for at least the next 40 days.

On 1 May, the country's time zone will be pushed forward by half an hour to salvage more daylight during working hours.

The government has blamed the energy crisis on the El Nino weather pattern, but "outside experts say mismanagement and a corrupt government have been the root cause", CNN says.

Power outages have exacerbated the oil-dependent nation's already significant economic woes. Long queues for food and medical supplies are commonplace and inflation is predicted to soar by as much as 500 per cent in 2016.

"We can't go on living like this," one Venezuelan told CNN. "We Venezuelan people deserve much better." 

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