COVID19: Union calls for supermarkets Sunday closing

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Employees with high-risk jobs at supermarkets, bakeries and grocery stores are reaching their limits as they suffer stress and exhaustion after working through the first weeks of the coronavirus pandemic.

Workers union DEOK, affiliated with Social Democrat party EDEK, has called on the government to take measures to protect staff who are on the front-line providing essential supplies.

Specifically, the union is calling on the Labour Ministry to follow the practice of other European countries and issue a decree to keep supermarkets closed on Sundays in a bid to protect workers from the virus and its side effects.

“It should be taken into consideration that these services are not provided by lifeless robots but our fellow human beings, primarily women who belong to the lowest tier of the payroll,” said DEOK in a statement.

DEOK called on the Ministry of Labour and Social Services to draw up an emergency plan to effectively address the problems and meet the needs of people belonging to vulnerable social groups such as the homeless, immigrants, the elderly and people below the poverty line.

The union said it expects commercial banks to adhere strictly by the guidelines issued by the European Central Bank and the Central Bank of Cyprus aimed at facilitating households and businesses by freezing loans and easing up when it comes to lending criteria.

Cyprus has been in lockdown after government decrees closed restaurants, coffeeshops, hotels plus other leisure businesses and restricting free movement.

Supermarkets, bakeries and kiosks are essentially the only access people have to food and other essentials.

A few days prior to the lockdown, supermarkets saw traffic double in comparison to the same period last year.