Shops, unions opposed to more Sunday openings
22 March 2006, BRUSSELS — Large chain stores and small store owners have reacted negatively to the federal government's decision to increase the number of Sunday trading days.
22 March 2006
BRUSSELS — Large chain stores and small store owners have reacted negatively to the federal government's decision to increase the number of Sunday trading days.
The government's decision last Friday to allow nine instead of three Sunday openings each year took large and small shops by surprise, newspaper 'De Tijd' reported on Wednesday.
The decision — which had been placed on the backburner due to resistance from trade unions — was taken at the insistence of the Liberals within the federal coalition.
Neither the retailers association Fedis nor unions were aware that the issue had been placed back on the agenda. The decision came as a complete surprise to all involved parties, many of whom are now angry at the turn of events.
"We were not consulted and did not request an expansion of Sunday openings," Colruyt supermarket director Luc Rogge said.
He said profits will not increase due to Sunday openings. Instead costs will increase because shops will need to pay staff triple rates. "That is not profitable," Rogge said.
Most of the large chain stories — such as Carrefour, C&A, E5-Mode, Brico, Hema and Ikea — are opposed to more Sunday openings.
"If a few businesses open, you can't do anything but follow," E5-Mode chief Mimi Lamote said, adding that she is opposed to an American-style situation which is "economically not interesting and bad for our personnel."
Small shops and independent supermarkets are also opposed to the new Sunday openings because they fear a loss of income. Sunday is usually a good day for them and they are not keen to share it with large chain stores.
Unions are also united against an expansion in Sunday openings. Union BBTK claimed the federal government is breaching earlier agreements and will protest outside the office of Employment Minister Peter Vanvelthoven on 30 March.
But Vanvelthoven urged for perspective. "We are going from three Sunday opening hours to possibly nine if councils want that," his spokesman said.
"That is not a great difference to the present situation. But it does meet the changed needs of consumers."
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news