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Catalonia wants to streamline public timetable

An initiative aims to achieve more reasonable working hours and better balance between work and family

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17 July 2017 07:23 PM

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Elisenda Rosanas / Helle Kettner | Barcelona

Catalonia has a kind of “jet lag” compared with timetables in the rest of the world, and the country now wants to regain the two hours it lags behind other areas. As a result, 100 organizations and the Catalan government signed an agreement on Monday to streamline the public timetable by 2025. The Timetable Reform Initiative aims to achieve more reasonable working hours and a better balance between work and family, as well as establishing healthier habits. The initiative wants the country to return to Greenwich Meridian Time (GMT) in five main spheres: employment, education, culture, administration and trade.

The agreement signed on Monday brought together institutions, associations, trade unions and other organizations, but was not signed by opposition groups, who say the objectives are “far from the citizens’ expectations.” At the signing, Catalan President Carles Puigdemont praised the willingness of the organizations to reach agreement from the beginning and for identifying a problem with how time is used in Catalonia. According to Puigdemont, Catalan society wastes time, which means the country has no future. The head of the Catalan administration encouraged Catalan society to make the best of the new industrial revolution to change the way time is spent and gain “sovereignty” over it. 

  • “In a gradual way and little by little, we will change the system and introduce public politics, while associations and trade unions will reach collective agreements and we will adapt the timetables of schools and shops”

    Fabián Mohedano · promoter of the Timetable Reform Initiative 

The promoter of the Timetable Reform Initiative, Fabián Mohedano, argues that the change of habits will not happen overnight, but rather that it is a process. “In a gradual way and little by little, we will change the system and introduce public politics, while associations and trade unions will reach collective agreements and we will adapt the timetables of schools and shops.”

At the signing, Mohedano gave a quick look into the future: “Do you remember when we used to have dinner at 10pm or when working at 8pm was normal? Or when we saw time as a discomfort and not a tool for freedom?” he asked, referring to how habits will change with timetable reform.

The Minister of the Presidency Jordi Turull claimed that today’s timetable habits have become normal, but not many years ago they were utopian: “with this timetable reform, and if we all work together, the current model will seem out-of-date and old fashion,” he said.

The general secretary of the UGT trade union, Camil Ros, stressed that the reform is about much more than “what time we have lunch or dinner,” saying that “the European countries that have similar timetables to those we want are based on the criteria of work quality and timetables.” He therefore pointed out the importance of the administration applying the changes, “because this will have an effect on many companies,” he said, adding that “private companies also have to adapt for it to have a real effect on the job market.”     

Due to its geographical location, Spain should belong to GMT like Portugal or the United Kingdom, but in 1940, after the Spanish Civil War, the dictator Francisco Franco adapted the Spanish time zone to that of Nazi Germany, which was an hour ahead of GMT. Now, the Catalan initiative for timetable reform wants to bring the country back to Greenwich Meridian Time.

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  • After the signing of the Timetable Reform Agreement (by ACN)

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