By George Psyllides
SHOP workers will not be able to exercise their religious duties during Easter because they will have to work until late on weekdays and on Sundays, the organisation of small shop owners (POVEK) said, appealing to the head of the Church of Cyprus to use his clout to change the opening hours.
POVEK said it has received many complaints from shop owners and employees that beyond other problems, the “inhumane” hours also limited their ability to exercise their religious rights.
According to the law, the organisation said, during the ten days before Easter, shops were allowed to remain open until 8pm, and 6pm on Friday and Saturday.
The current times would not allow employees to observe the church services on Good Friday and Saturday POVEK said.
POVEK asked Archbishop Chrysostomos to use his influence on the government and the labour minister so that the decrees extending shop hours were rescinded.
The organisation has been fighting against the new shop hours since their introduction last July.
The order extending shop hours was issued by the government in a bid to boost businesses and cut unemployment. It allows retailers to stay open for longer, including Wednesday afternoons and Sundays.
The religion card was used by POVEK again in August last year. The organisation has warned that the new hours would be the end of SMEs that managed to survive the crisis so far.
Employers argue that due to their extended work hours turnover has increased and a few thousand unemployed individuals have found work, even on part-time basis.