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5-day work week stirs public debate
By Yu Zhong (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-03-24 23:41

Ten years ago today, a simple but big decision changed life in China forever.

A move to a "five working day" week changed the scheduling of TV programmes, popularized short-distance travel and attendance to training courses shot up.

Now, however, a decade later, the issue is still controversial.

"Five working days? No kidding. We taxi drivers are excluded from that benefit," said Wang Jinquan, a Beijing cab driver.

Wang got his first job in 1980, when the country implemented the "six working days" system.

Before he became a cab driver five years ago, he experienced an ecstatic decrease in working days.

Not only cab drivers, shop clerks, journalists, senior officials and even primary school students are among the many who work more than the "five working days."

Cai Qizhen, a teenaged student in Guangdong Province, used to get upset at his busy weekend schedule, which was full of extra studies enforced by his parents.

For some people, the weekend is sometimes much more tiring than the working week.

Xie Jiajing, a bank employee in East China's Zhejiang Province, said she spent most of her weekends last year on courses.

Xie said she would like to have three days off a week, because "working for five days is still tiring, while Friday is always a low efficiency day."

But the debate does not end here.

Months ago, a suggestion on "working six days a week while taking four days off at the end of a month" cause much debate.

Wang Xiaoguang, a senior official from the National Development and Reform Commission, put forward the idea in a recent economic report.

"It can give the public more choices for travelling around," he said.

But most of the public appear to oppose the proposal.

"People need a regular rest after working some time. The four days off in a month can hardly make up for the two-day rest each week," said Wu Sulian, an editor with the Beijing-based Huawen Publishing House.

On the other hand, there are also some supporters like Chen Yiting, a Beijing employee at an international accounting agency, who has "become bored with the 'five plus two' mode" and always has to work on the weekend.

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