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Brakes put on general Sunday shopping

Sunday shopping remains only at railway stations and airports

(Keystone)

The House of Representatives has voted by 106 votes to 56 against allowing a general opening of shops in Switzerland on Sundays.

The decision comes just 11 days after Swiss voters narrowly accepted a labour law permitting shops at airports and major railway stations to open their doors on Sundays.

A motion passed by the Senate last year called on the government to come up with a legal framework allowing Sunday work at retail outlets and at firms offering services.

But it said the sovereignty of the cantons on precise opening times had to be respected.

The House of Representatives had delayed its debate on the motion until the labour law vote on November 27, which was accepted by just 50.6 per cent of voters. Nineteen of Switzerland's 26 cantons voted against the move.

Logical consequence

Paul Rechsteiner, from the centre-left Social Democratic Party and president of the Swiss Trades Union Federation, said Thursday's vote in the House was a logical consequence of the electorate's decision last month.

It was a "yes" to the status quo but a "no" for the expansion of Sunday opening outside the major public transport centres.

The majority of parliamentarians from the centre-right Radical Party and rightwing Swiss People's Party had pleaded for the motion to be accepted. Economics Minister Joseph Deiss also supported them.

Speakers claimed it would encourage economic growth and would be an attraction for tourists.

But Francine John-Calame of the Greens argued that a general opening of shops on Sunday would jeopardise the labour situation for employees.

She said employment in retail stores was already badly paid, the large majority of staff were women and there were few possibilities to have children looked after.

Rechsteiner noted that if Sunday were to become a normal working day, people who were already obliged to work now, for example in hospitals or in the public transport sector, would lose their Sunday allowance.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

The House of Representatives has turned down a complete liberalisation of shop opening on Sundays by a large majority.

The vote has quashed a motion accepted by the Senate last year that was in favour of further liberalisation.

Thursday's decision follows a referendum on November 27 in which the electorate narrowly voted in favour of legislation for shops to open on Sunday at airports and railway stations.

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