Comment – Public holiday blues

Was Tuesday a public holiday or not? There was mass confusion all over the country this week as the public sector, for the second year running, was supposedly not allowed to give “tolerância” (tolerance) to take Carnival Tuesday as a holiday. Carnival has never actually been an official holiday, but up until last year it was taken by pretty much the whole of the public and private sector, with no shortage of workers also taking the Monday off to make it a blissfully long four-day weekend.

But what with Troika and the mood in general, things are of course changing. The problem was that nobody really seemed to know what was going on. On Monday morning, we were told that one of the banks we work with (Barclays) would not be open – in fact our branch manager had also taken Monday off. But as late as midday, our other bank, Caixa Geral de Depósitos, which of course is owned by the government, still could not tell us if they would be open or not. In the end, the poor CGD employees obviously put enough pressure on their bosses and they joined the rest of the country’s banks to make Tuesday an almost official bank holiday.

But what about government offices? It appears that most Câmaras used their powers of autonomy to go against the government directive and close, whilst Finanças seemed to be very reluctantly open. We tried calling our local branch and could not get an answer – nothing new there. But a call to a major branch in Lisbon eventually got an answer from a grumpy lady telling us that they were open but everywhere else on their Avenida was shut.

In the private sector, most businesses seemed to have followed suit and the country pretty much ground to a halt, but there were exceptions.

At the Algarve Resident and Open Media offices in Lagoa, some of the team were in to make sure that this week’s newspaper reaches you in time and will have a nice long weekend taking Friday off instead.

A quick Google search reveals that now (after four of the traditional holidays have been scrapped), we have only one more day a year off than the UK and, if we include Carnival, the same amount of holidays as Germany but a great deal less than some, such as Malaysia with 16 public holidays a year and Spain with 11.

The Editorial team