By George Psyllides
The majority of MPs in the Labour Committee decided to ask the House President to look into the possibility of appealing a government decision to issue a decree allowing shops to remain open on Sundays.
The decision was announced by AKEL MP Andreas Fakondis following a committee meeting on Thursday.
“It is a political act that undermines the institutions and lawfulness,” Fakondis said.
It also violated the separation of powers, clashed with parliament, the majority of political parties, the thousands of small and medium businesses and workers in the retail trade, and it hurts the trust between the minister and the committee, he added.
Opposition parties AKEL, DIKO, EDEK, and the Greens, want House President Yiannakis Omirou to explore the possibility of filing an appeal with the Supreme Court against the cabinet decision.
The decree, which expires on November 30, was issued by Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou on Wednesday.
It came 24 hours before the minister’s right to issue such orders expired, following a decision by parliament.
Opposition parties said the minister had no right to issue a decree but Emilianidou said the government got the green light from the attorney-general.
The law that allowed such decrees “expired on May 13, thus the decree has no legal basis and is blatantly illegal,” Fakondis said.
The committee’s decision incorporated ruling DISY’s disagreement.
Party MP Nicos Nouris said the decision had been made in haste.
Nouris also censured the majority over their disapproval of the president’s decision to refer a controversial law on shopping hours to the Supreme Court.
“We think it is not proper for the House Labour Committee and parliament to express disapproval for the constitutional right of the president to refer a decision to the Supreme Court,” Nouris said.
The bill, passed by opposition parties last week, bans general stores – such as department stores, malls and supermarkets – from opening on Sundays.
The government decided to send the law to the Supreme Court, arguing that it included provisions that were unconstitutional.
The government “could have referred the law to parliament to correct the potentially unconstitutional provisions, if it was really interested in restoring normalcy in shopping times,” Fakondis said.
It irked opposition parties even more after the minister issued the decree on Wednesday, allowing shops to continue to open on Sundays until the end of November or until the Supreme Court decides otherwise.
Angelos Votsis, the DIKO MP considered the architect of the controversial law, said there was a good chance the decree would be annulled if someone appealed.
“We recommend that parliament should do it … but I understand various other groups would also move towards that direction,” Votsis said.
Opposition parties passed the law, ignoring calls from businesses that they would have to lay off thousands of staff if they were forced to shut shop on Sunday.