Late opening provokes ire of unions
(JB) Unions are outraged after an experiment to allow shops to stay open later on a Saturday was extended by a year.
The one-year test was launched in July 2010, granting stores the right to remain open later on Saturdays and before bank holidays.
At the time, it faced considerable opposition from unions and independent shopkeepers, who complained about the cost of additional manpower and the impact on employees' free time.
Despite this, the department for small and medium sized enterprises has issued permits to extend the programme a further year and potentially make it a permanent fixture.
Unions LCGB and OGBL were furious at the decision, calling for evidence to justify the measure.
According to them, only five major outlets had reported an increased turnover as a result of extended opening hours.
And even then, the growth was marginal at around 3.4%. Small and independently owned stores, the unions said, had lost out in the measure by paying for extra staffing without necessarily seeing any profit improvements.
Shop staff were also hard hit, losing out on two hours of their free time, a loss which the union says should be compensated with lieu time or additional pay.
OGBL secretary André Sowa said: “There has been no real growth, only a shift in purchasing power in favour of the wholesaler.”
According to the unions, the ministry for small to medium enterprises is in the process of writing a bill to have extended opening hours enshrined in Luxembourg law.