Italy finds proposal to skip lunch hard to digest

Italy finds proposal to skip lunch hard to digest

While many European peers nibble a sandwich at their desk, most Italian workers still retire en masse to a “tavola calda” (buffet restaurant) or a company canteen for a slap-up meal, often an hour-long affair involving pasta or meat, a vegetable dish, fruit and coffee.

But, cabinet minister Gianfranco Rotondi said this encourages shirking and obesity, and makes the working day unnecessarily long.

His comments were front-page news, lampooned by cartoonists and rejected by trade unions rallying around the workers’ right to a lunchbreak. Nutritionists warned that if Italians skipped their lunch, they could collapse in the afternoon.

“It is bad for output and also for the harmony of the day. I never liked this ritual which brings Italy to a standstill,” the minister said late on Monday.

In the face of the uproar his comments produced, Rotondi later clarified that he had “never proposed abolishing lunchbreaks”. “I only said that I abolished mine 20 years ago. The ideal thing would be for workers to choose,” he told reporters.