MK Ze'ev Elkin: Having Sundays off is ‘inevitable’

Likud MK says country will eventually have a five-day work week, even if current efforts to enact a longer weekend are unsuccessful.

Zeev Elkin 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Zeev Elkin 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The country will eventually have a five-day work week, even if current efforts to enact a longer weekend with Sundays off are unsuccessful, coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) said confidently in an interview on Tuesday with The Jerusalem Post.
Elkin and MK Yariv Levin (Likud) submitted a bill that would lengthen the work day substantially on Fridays and slightly during the rest of the week in order to make Sunday a day off like it is in most of the Western world.
Elkin said it could take time to pass the bill but demographic and economic realities made the change unavoidable.
“As the population changes, Shabbat-observant people will eventually be a majority among the Jews in the country,” Elkin said.
“The fact that they are not participating as consumers in the shopping, cultural and sports events that take place on weekends could harm these economic sectors in the future if Sundays do not become a day off. I think it’s inevitable that this will pass, if not now then in a few years.”
Elkin gave credit to Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky and Likud MK Yuli Edelstein for initiating the idea when they were in the now defunct Israel Ba’aliya Party and to Vice Premier Silvan Shalom for promoting the idea successfully in the current government. Shalom has drawn support for the idea from business leaders and religious parties that opposed the move in the past, but Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu have not yet revealed their point of view on the matter.
“We are much more of a global country than we were in the past,” Elkin said. “On Sundays, a lot of businesses work, but they can’t really get anything done because the rest of the world is closed, and on Fridays when they should work they don’t really work, so they lose two days.
“The bill would increase productivity,” Elkin said supporting such a bill was natural for him as an immigrant from Ukraine when it was part of the Soviet Union. He said immigrants from former Soviet countries as well as English-speaking and European immigrants were big backers of the legislation.
He cautioned that the bill could not be expedited because he needed to work on attracting as much support for it as possible in the Knesset while Shalom continues lobbying ministers and business leaders. Elkin did not put it on the list of key bills he believes he can pass by the August 7 end of the Knesset’s summer session that includes reforms aimed at ending the housing crisis and legislation intended to prevent boycotts against Judea and Samaria.
“Enacting Sundays off would be a dramatic change, so it has to be advanced by a consensus, and that takes time,” Elkin said.