Minister warns that Spain’s tradition of eating late at night could jeopardize mental health

Spain’s leftwing labour minister Yolanda Díaz has raised concerns about the risks to mental health of working past 10pm, criticizing the country’s tradition of keeping restaurants open until late into the night as “madness.” This has sparked a debate over Spain’s vibrant nightlife and the long working hours necessary to sustain it. Díaz highlighted that having restaurants open at 1am is unreasonable and urged against further extending opening hours.

The opposition People’s party and various business associations defended Spain’s nightlife, with Isabel Díaz Ayuso emphasizing the importance of vibrant streets and nightlife for both employment and tourism. They criticized Díaz’s remarks, accusing her of promoting a dull, homebound lifestyle.

Spain by Night, a federation representing leisure and entertainment groups, emphasized the importance of the country’s nightlife as a tourist attraction, rejecting any proposals that question the Spanish lifestyle. The longstanding debate over Spain’s strenuous workday, which often extends past 11 hours, lies at the core of this dispute.

In 2016, the People’s party pledged to shorten the workday and improve work-life balance. However, the party has emerged as one of the strongest critics of Díaz’s recent comments. Díaz, on the other hand, stated that her primary goal is to protect the rights of workers, advocating for reduced working hours to enhance quality of life.

Díaz emphasized the mental health risks associated with night shifts and called for better labor conditions for restaurant workers. She initiated negotiations earlier this year to reduce the legal workweek from 40 to 37.5 hours without wage cuts, potentially impacting up to 12 million workers in Spain.

Her efforts aim to ensure that those working after 10pm are adequately compensated and to improve labor conditions for workers across various Spanish cities. Díaz stressed the seriousness of these issues for the lives of working individuals in the country, urging a stop to trivializing them.

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