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Cyprus

Parliament shuts shops on Sundays (updated)

Parliament on Thursday voted to close shops on Sunday despite warnings that people would lose their jobs.

The bill was passed with the votes of opposition parties AKEL, DIKO, and EDEK.

Shops in Ayia Napa, Protaras, Polis, Latsi, Coral Bay and Nicosia old town are exempted.

Earlier on Thursday, prominent businessman Nicos Shacolas warned that thousands of jobs would be lost if parliament approved a controversial bill banning certain shops from opening on Sundays.

In a phone call during discussion of the issue on a morning news show on state broadcaster CyBC, Shacolas was blunt.

“With the approval of this law we will be forced to send dismissal notices to 1,208 people in the coming week,” he said. “Unfortunately these people will lose their job.”

The founder of the Shacolas Group suggested that as many as 10,000 people could lose their jobs because of the decision made by opposition parties, which were expected to approve the bill on Thursday afternoon.

Shacolas said it wasn’t just managers and salespeople that were needed for a store to operate on a Sunday.

There were also the suppliers, cleaners, security guards, and so on.

“All these wages will be lost,” he said.

He said the closure would also cost the state since retail trade rose 3.8 per cent since the government decided to extend opening hours in 2013 in a bid to boost the economy following a messy bailout.

Shacolas censured opposition parties for taking a decision without a proper study into the issue.

He said they were trying to destroy jobs and hurt the economy at a time of crisis. “This is unheard of.”

POVEK, the union of shop owners at the forefront of the campaign to close shops on Sundays, described Shacolas’ comments as blackmail.

POVEK said the recognised the right to express their position “but we consider it unacceptable and dangerous to threaten, blackmail, and rape society for the sakes of their own interests.”

The union said it had always demanded what was fair and logical.

“We never demanded, nor have we threatened to tear down the institutions, laws, and other peoples’ rights if our positions were not accepted,” it said in a statement.

POVEK said it defended the right to work for all businesses and all workers.

DIKO MP Angelos Votsis, considered to be the architect of the current proposal, conceded that parties were effectively intervening in the market in a bid to “restore” retail trade to its previous form.

On the same morning news show, Votsis was asked by the host if what parties were attempting to do was to intervene in the market with a decision that would define how turnover would be allocated.

“The plan is to close supermarkets and malls on Sundays to help small and medium businesses. Is this the objective or not?” the reporter asked.

“Very well said … with a small difference,” Votsis replied. “The difference is, to restore retail trade to its previous condition, based on the law.”

The share of the pie has changed, he said, following the government’s decision to issue decrees allowing shops to stay open longer and on Sundays.

“This resulted in the transfer of (market) share to those who could operate on Sundays,” he said.

Under the previous regime, shops were closed on Sundays and Wednesday afternoons. On Saturday’s they closed at 7pm.

 



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