A representative of small shops in old Limassol has slammed Sunday shopping saying it was ruining small companies, violating labour rights and misleading public opinion.
Christis Demetriou said the issue of shopping hours and particularly Sunday work had been swept under the carpet for a number of reasons. He noted that 25% of business these past seven years has been transferred to Sundays.
As a result small family run companies have run into difficulties and workers’ rights are being abused.
In addition, public opinion has been misled into believing that new jobs have been created whereas in fact, work has been taken away from full time staff and given to part timers, he said.
This means that social insurance contributions and overtime are not paid.
Indicatively he said that if a part time employee is paid €4 an hour — €32 for a day’s work — in reality the net wage once the various expenses of the day such as food, petrol etc are deducted is around €17.
“Which of us would agree to lose the only day dedicated to the family for €17?” he queried.
Large shops, supported by business associations, have strongly backed Sunday shopping, saying this benefits consumers and creates jobs.
Smaller shops have countered that it has led to unfair competition as they cannot afford to pay staff to stay open all week nor can they be expected to work seven days a week.
Efforts by MPs to reach consensus on a schedule that will satisfy all sides made little headway.
In the past, only shops in designated tourist areas were allowed to open on Sundays but this was scrapped as it was found to be discriminatory both to shopkeepers and to consumers.