By Angelos Anastasiou
THE LABOUR ministry yesterday forwarded the regulations for the working hours of shops to the House of Representatives, after Parliament decided to remove the minister’s right to settle the matter through the issuance of decrees.
According to the regulations, working hours for shops in Nicosia, Limassol, Larnaca, and Paphos, would be from 5am to 10pm, Monday through Saturday, and 11am to 7pm on Sundays.
Famagusta was afforded a slightly expanded schedule – shops may remain open from 5am to 11pm from Monday to Saturday, and 7:30am to 11pm on Sunday.
The government’s view, recorded in the report accompanying the proposal, is that the implementation and expansion of the working hours of tourist areas across Cyprus has achieved the goals of stimulating the market and increasing employment.
The report claimed that the expansion has resulted in the creation of over 7,000 jobs since July 2013.
Meanwhile, in a letter to parliament, the labour ministry’s permanent secretary said a bill safeguarding employees’ rights will be brought to the House on April 15.
Deliberations with stakeholders are ongoing before the bill can be finalised, the letter said.
“The bill is inextricably linked to the content of the [working hours] regulations, and aims at safeguarding the rights of employees in shops affected by the aforementioned regulations,” he said.
Passing the proposed regulations would continue a policy measure that has proven successful for the past two years, the government argued.
“The labour ministry feels that the measure should be extended through the voting of the proposed regulations,” the report read.
Since initially imposed in July 2013, the measure has been resisted by various left-wing organisations, including small-business association POVEK and employee union PEO, who have deemed it a flagrant assault on employee rights aimed at benefiting large companies at the expense of employees and small businesses.
So it was no surprise that PEO issued a statement on Tuesday, urging deputies to vote against the government’s proposal.
“The regulations essentially aim at legalising the existing unacceptable practice of turning the whole of Cyprus into a tourist area,” the union said.
“With regard to the repeated claim that the proposed regulations create jobs, it is misleading and false,” it added.
“The new working hours have essentially turned full-time employees into part-timers, and distributing the employment hours they lost among other employees. Employment has not increased – it has merely been shared.”