Venezuela's government on Saturday extended by two weeks a decree reducing the public sector workweek to Mondays and Tuesdays in a bid to tackle the oil-rich country's electricity crisis. The enforced leave was first announced in late April, a drastic move for a government also grappling with an economic crisis that has Venezuelans queuing for hours to buy scarce supplies.
President Nicolas Maduro's administration blames the power shortage on a drought caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon, which it says has caused water used by the country's hydroelectric plants to run low. The authorities had hoped rain would replenish reservoirs while the restrictions were in place.
Erika Farias, governor of Cojedes state, said while announcing the extension of the decree by 15 days that the rains we expected were not enough. Speaking at the Miraflores presidential palace in the capital Caracas, she said elementary and high school classes would continue to be canceled on Fridays under the extended decree.
The opposition, who hold a majority in the legislature, say the power shortage is the result of economic mismanagement and inefficient running of the energy network.
Faced with what Maduro says is the worst drought in 40 years, his government has also imposed a series of other measures. They include daily blackouts, shifting the country's time zone forward 30 minutes and cutting the workday for Venezuela's two million public sector employees to six hours.