lunes, diciembre 26, 2005

Christmas in Madrid

It's that time of year again when all the newspapers have to talk about is what has already happened and what they incorrectly believe will happen in the next 12 months. Oh, and in the case of the British press, the same old stories are recycled year after year after year after year, oh, I'm getting bored with this.

I have just seen one that was published the other day in the Independent. Apparently, shock, horror, the Spanish have decided to reduce their two hour lunch breaks, referred to in this London based newspaper as a 'siesta'. It's a funny thing good old 'deja-vu'. The same story seems to have been published every year for the past two decades. This so-called 'social transformation' appears to be taking a long time.

Let me first clear a few things up:

The Spanish do not generally take siestas. Working hours vary depending on the kind of job you perform. Some people work from 8 AM - 3 PM non stop, others work from 9 AM - 2 PM and then from 3:30 PM to 6:30PM. Some have a two hour lunch break, some a one hour lunch break, some a three hour lunch break. It makes no difference since what counts here is the hours in which you work.`

Apparently, so I hear, a typical timetable in the UK is 9 AM - 5 PM. All those 8 hours are counted as 'working hours', regardless of how long employees take of for lunch. In Spain on the other hand, working hours are working hours. And overtime is generally unpaid.

Recently I read that the Spanish work the longest hours in the world, after the Japanese. Of course, this does not mean that much since productivity is low, in a great part due to old-fashioned working practices. Why for example is 26 December not a bank holiday in Madrid when it is in the rest of the World? Why, on the other hand, are 6th and 8th December bank holidays when the rest of the world is being productive. Yes, indeed, Spanish employees are more often than not made to sit on their arses when there is no work to do, and this leads to lethargy and a lack of productivity in the long term.

It doesn't matter though. The British press will keep churning out the patronising stereotypes while they enjoy their FOUR DAY Christmas bank holiday. Tomorrow they will no doubt announce that the French have decided to find new ways of freshening their breath after garlic picking and that the Germans have grown tired of sausages.

Anyway, I'm sick of this. I think I'll be off for a mid-morning kip.