Shalom plans meetings to draft long-weekend coalition

Deputy Prime Minister hopes to extend weekends to Sunday, says plan will energize workers and help coordinate international business.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
March 13, 2011 01:23
2 minute read.
Silvan Shalom

silvan shalom 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

Vice Premier Silvan Shalom will hold several key meetings this week to try to build a coalition of movers and shakers to advance his proposal to extend the weekend to Sunday.

Shalom has already discussed the issue with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Bank of Israel Gov. Stanley Fischer, Histadrut labor federation chief Ofer Eini and Knesset Finance Committee chairman Moshe Gafni.

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He has a longer meeting set up this week with Eini, as well as with Manufacturers Association president Shraga Brosh, Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce president Uriel Lynn, and a long list of politicians led by Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Shalom Simhon, who is key because his ministry would have to advance the idea.

Shalom revealed that a clause in the coalition agreement requiring the formation of a task force on extending the weekend had never been implemented. An official in the Prime Minister’s Office said last week that the task force had met once soon after the government was formed, but Shalom found that it still hadn’t been formed and its members hadn’t been chosen.

“We don’t have a real weekend,” he complained. “On Fridays, the kids are at school and the stores close at 2. We don’t have a day when we can rest, play and shop. It would be totally different when we have Sunday as a weekend.”

According to the plan, the work week would be extended on Monday through Thursday by half an hour, and people would work on Friday until 1 or 2, depending on the starting time of Shabbat. Children would go to school on Monday through Friday for an extra hour to make up for the lack of school on Sundays, which could allow women to work longer hours and have an easier time advancing to managerial positions.

Shalom gave his vision of soccer games being moved to Sundays, as well as children’s theater, and tours of the North and South, which his Negev and Galilee Development Ministry advances.

A longer weekend would make workers more energized and productive, and it would help businesses to coordinate the work week with global markets, he said.

“Having Sundays off is not only for Christian countries,” Shalom said, rattling off a long list of Muslim countries and non-Christian countries in Asia that have adopted it. “They decided to have Sunday off because they believe it will benefit them in the global world.”

When asked what he thought his chances of success were, Shalom said he thought they were good, but that it would not be easy. He expressed hope that Netanyahu would adopt the idea.

“I’ve been talking about it for years,” Shalom said. “Whenever I was asked what I would do first if I were ever elected prime minister, I would always say, extend the weekend.”


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