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Sunday shop opening under discussion

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The Labour Ministry will review regulations governing retail shops’ operating hours, including the right to remain open on Sundays, 10 years after its introduction.

Following a meeting with the small shopkeepers’ union POVEK on Monday, Labour Minister Yiannis Panayiotou said the matter would be reviewed in consultation with all stakeholders.

Panayiotou’s comments essentially reopen the controversial issue of the operation of shops on Sundays.

POVEK, opposed to shops opening on Sunday, has kept the issue of abolishing the legislation on their agenda, tabling it at their meeting with the Labour Minister.

“It is necessary to develop a structured dialogue, through which the experience of the previous period will be evaluated to plan the next steps”, said the minister.

Panayiotou noted, however, that the matter cannot be taken lightly as the opening hours of the shops affect the whole of the economy and society.

He expressed the certainty that decisions will be taken keeping everybody’s best interest at heart.

Asked whether a six-day working week will be introduced for retailers, Panayiotou said it would be wiser to avoid commenting on the essence of the matter, pending a social dialogue.

Regarding the discussions over introducing a four-day week for the public and private sector, the minister noted: “Flexibility at work concerning time and space, utilising the possibilities of teleworking, is now gaining traction in the modern world”.

He added that this should be taken up amongst social partners through the government’s labour advisory body.

POVEK general secretary Stephanos Koursaris said a “positive aura prevailed in the meeting”.

“Shop operating hours must be legally regulated, and from what we understand, the Labour Minister will be launching a social dialogue with all stakeholders involved,” said Koursaris.

“There must be legally regulated opening hours for shops in Cyprus, and from what we understand, the Minister of Labour will start such a dialogue with all the agencies involved so that we can now seriously examine this matter”, he added.