Thursday 4 July 2024 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Thursday. 4/7/2024

The Monocle Minute

The Opinion

Work in progress: Gasworks on the islet of Revithoussa

Image: Reuters

Economics / Emmanuil Papavasileiou

Despite the controversy, Greece’s six-day working week could benefit both businesses and employees

Greece made headlines this Monday when its labour ministry announced the introduction of a six-day working week. It comes at a time when many Western countries are considering four-day weeks in a bid to boost workers’ productivity. Though the decision has sparked condemnation from elsewhere in the EU, it’s a smart idea and one that’s important to look at in its local context. According to EU statistics agency Eurostat, Greeks work an average of 39.8 hours a week, the highest number in the bloc. Despite this, the move could bring much-needed growth to the country’s economy, which is still recovering from its debt crisis.

The scheme will address current labour shortages and only apply to private companies that provide 24/7 services; the hospitality and food industries are excluded. Until now, it was illegal for businesses in Greece to operate a six-day week, which prevented staff from being paid for overtime conducted beyond the five-day limit. Employees now have the option to work an extra two hours a day or an additional eight-hour shift, which will be rewarded with a wage increase. It sends a message to foreign investors that Greece is edging closer to its European peers when it comes to fair business practices.

Greece’s new model might not be suitable for flourishing economies but it could prove to be a good example for countries wishing to bounce back faster from financial crises. The government has emphasised that its biggest problem is its “brain drain”; young workers, myself included, who fly abroad in search of more secure jobs. Giving companies the ability to offer employees staggered work patterns, sounder contracts and increased pay is a good way to reverse this drain.

Emmanuil Papavasileiou is Monocle’s newsletters editor. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribeto Monocle today.

The Briefings

Rain-sodden Rishi Sunak at 10 Downing Street in May after calling an election

Image: Alamy


After a damp-squib campaign, the UK goes to the polls – and Labour prepares for power

Voters in the UK head to the polls today after what has been a historically dull election campaign. Rishi Sunak called the vote on a rainy day in late May amid dismally low approval ratings. Since then, the polls have scarcely changed: almost everyone, including the ruling Conservatives, believes that the opposition Labour Party will win. The only question is by how much.

If Labour wins a large majority (more than 150 seats), it will be able to pass legislation more easily. In a bid to make itself more electable, however, the party has jettisoned many of its policy commitments. If it has a majority of more than 250 – what has been called a “super-majority” – it could enforce its agenda nearly unopposed, a result that Sunak and his allies are warning of in increasingly threatening tones. The relatively benign nature of the past six weeks belies the fact that whoever is prime minister come Friday faces a number of difficult challenges both at home and abroad.

Image: Shutterstock


Full steam ahead: Taiwan’s scenic forest railway reopens

Taiwan’s Alishan Forest Railway will resume operations this weekend after intense restoration works, 15 years after it was partly closed as a result of damage from Typhoon Morakot. A new timetable will be launched on Saturday, with the first train departing from Chiayi station.

According to the Taiwanese Cultural Heritage Office, ticket prices will remain the same, though fares could be adjusted in the second half of 2025 when nine new locomotives and 48 carriages go into service. The reopening of one of the region’s most scenic routes will certainly be a boost to Taiwan’s tourism sector as the country doubles down on fresh initiatives and makes changes to the law in a bid to encourage visitors.

For more on the Alishan Forest Railway, tune in to Wednesday’s edition of ‘The Globalist’ on Monocle Radio.


Major reshuffle at fine jewellery and watch group Richemont

There are big changes afoot in the C-suite of the Richemont group, owner of heritage fine jewellery and watch labels such as Cartier, Vacheron Constantin and Piaget. At Cartier, one of the group’s highest-earning houses, CEO Cyrille Vigneron is retiring. Louis Ferla, Vacheron Constantin’s current CEO, will replace Vigneron, who has been overseeing the expansion of the brand’s watch sector and the revamp of its flagship shops (or “temples”, as they’re known internally). Meanwhile, at Van Cleef & Arpels, the group’s historic Place Vendôme-based jeweller, CEO Nicolas Bos is stepping into a more senior role as group CEO. His position will be filled by Catherine Rénier, who until now held the top post at Jaeger-Le Coultre, another Richemont watchmaker. The reshuffle highlights the company’s commitment to promoting from within – Rénier, for example, has been working for the group for 20 years – and founder Johann Rupert’s careful succession planning. By bringing in a new generation of leaders, he hopes to ensure that the group retains its leading position in the watch and jewellery sectors.

Beyond the Headlines

Q&A / Roman Coppola and Johan Chiaramonte

How new interview-based magazine ‘Enthousiasmos’ captures the essence of a good conversation

Enthousiasmos is a new magazine founded by US filmmaker Roman Coppola and Lyon-based Johan Chiaramonte. Every issue will feature a big interview with a creative (such as an artist, designer, musician or actor) and will also be packed with items on topics surrounding their work. Monocle Radio’s The Stack spoke to Coppola and Chiaramonte about the publication’s first edition, which focuses on Italian director Luca Guadagnino.

Roman, is this your first experience in the magazine world?
Roman Coppola: Pretty much. I am a curious person and that’s the root of this magazine – I always want to try new things. When I made a film called CQ [in 2001], we created a magazine as part of its promotion.

Johan, what was the design inspiration for ‘Enthousiasmos’?
Johan Chiaramonte: When I met Roman, I found out that we have this common interest in magazine designs of the 1970s and 1980s. We are great fans of the work of Charles White III and Milton Glaser, people who have a very strong visual sense of what makes a good magazine and cover. For the design of the first issue, we collaborated with US-based candle designer Wary Meyers. We featured Luca Guadagnino because we wanted the issue to be very Italian, Mediterranean and inspired by the summer.

Why does the magazine centre around one guest per issue?
RC: I see it as like having a stimulating conversation with someone you have a wonderful rapport with. It was so interesting to sit with Luca and chat about how he was raised in Ethiopia and his various passions in life, as well as his love of food and film criticism. The experience that we wish to convey with the magazine is similar to having a meal with someone that you just cannot wait to discover things about.

For our full interview with Roman Coppola and Johan Chiaramonte, tune in on the latest edition of ‘The Stack’ on Monocle Radio.

Image: Ando Living

Monocle Radio / The Entrepreneurs

The Development Studio and Ando Living

We explore smart urban development and innovative real-estate strategies with two founders leading the transformation of city spaces. Founder Keith Kerr talks about the evolution of The Development Studio, highlighting its design focus and adaptability in Hong Kong’s competitive market. Plus: Ando Living chairman Hakan Kodal discusses the company’s focus on neighbourhood connectivity, opportunities in the serviced apartment market and its expansion into key European cities.


sign in to monocle

new to monocle?

Subscriptions start from £120.

Subscribe now





Monocle Radio

00:00 01:00