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Retailers, craftsmen and the Church united against the work on Sunday

11 December 2012 / 15:12:28  GRReporter
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The latest attempt of the government to allow retailers to work on Sundays caused confusion and discontent in Greece. The issue came back on the agenda after the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness presented a bill, allowing the retailers in the country to work seven Sundays a year. The new amendments will allow shops, supermarkets, malls and small shops to be open to the public two Sundays before Christmas, one Sunday before Easter, one Sunday during the winter and summer sales and one Sunday in May and November, which are the intermediate sales periods.

So far, the trade unions and associations have had no objections. The cause of a series of protests and unrest was a government proposal to remove the restriction for commercial sites of up to 250 m2 to be closed on the seventh day of the week. In other words, the government allows small merchnats who want to open their shops on Sunday to do it on a voluntary basis. The purpose of the government is to modernize the existing rules for the activities of the commercial sector, which have been in force ever since 1946, and to help increase sales and consumption.

"Those retailers who will not fail due to the tax reform will close due to the changes related with the work on Sundays," the chairman of the Greek Chamber of Commerce told Skai TV. "It is impossible for small retailers to endure and work 52 Sundays a year," he said. Korkidis is clear that the low consumption in Greece and the higher wages of employees for weekend work will not result in the increase in turnover the introduction of working on Sundays is expected to bring.

Korkidis calls the representatives of the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness "Janissaries of the lenders’ Troika" and sees a conspiracy of the big commercial chains that plan to destroy the small retailers. According to him, many international commercial chains have rented premises under 250 m2 and they will be able to take advantage of the new amendment to the law. They will take the customers of small and medium-sized retailers and lead to bankruptcy other tens of thousands of small family businesses.

Even more dramatic was the tone of the speech of the president of the Hellenic Confederation of Professionals, Craftsmen and Merchants, Dimitris Asimakopoulos. He said ironically, "A proposal by the Government has come at last, which will enable 1.3 million unemployed people, 100 thousand bankrupt small and medium businesses and people with part-time jobs, who must bear the burden of the new tax changes, to begin to wander about the shops for their shopping therapy."

Archbishop Jerome expressed his opinion on whether people should work on Sundays as well. According to him, it is a sin and blasphemy to make a working day the day when Christians worship God.
The story became almost funny when the ministry explained that the working hours on Sunday would be from 10 am to 4 pm in order for citizens to be able to attend the morning and afternoon liturgy of the Greek Church.

The journalist and human rights activist, Grigoris Valianatos, decided to continue the theme with a playful tone. He suggested on his Facebook profile that if Sunday is the day of God (Sunday is "Κυριακή" in Greek and comes from the word "Κύριο," which means god), then maybe we should change the name of the seventh day of the week, following the example of English – Sunday, which means Sun’s day instead of Κυριακή. So, the retailers who want to work on Sunday and the citizens, who want to go shopping the same day, will not bear the burden of the sense of blasphemy.

Tags: EconomyMarketsCommercial sitesRestrictionsSundaysGreece
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