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sabbath retail Geneva shops to open three Sundays per year, voters decide

shopping street in Geneva

Probably not a Sunday on the Rue du Mont Blanc, Geneva.

(Keystone)

Voters in Geneva have narrowly accepted a new law to allow shops remain open on Sundays. A trial period of three Sundays per year, for two years, will now be tested.

The quiet streets and shuttered shopfronts of Sunday afternoon Geneva are set to be shaken up – at least for a couple of days each year – thanks to the approval of a new law by 52.5% of voters in the western Swiss canton.

Radical Liberal politician Jacques Bené, one of the initiators of the new regulation, said that it was a “victory for Geneva shops and for employment in the sector”. Such a step was important to mitigate the trend of locals travelling abroad to do their shopping, he claimed.

However, he bemoaned the fact that the change would only be made three Sundays per year.

Trade unions meanwhile reacted with dismay. Though the new law will give “important compensation” to employees – double pay on Sunday, time off the week before or after – no overarching collective agreement has yet been negotiated for workers in the retail sector.

The unions called on the retail industry to use the “huge tax gift” that they also received on Sunday (in a separate vote on corporate tax reform, the Geneva rate dropped from 24.2% to 13.99%) to raise salaries and create new jobs. They also plan to oppose plans, currently under discussion, to extend evening opening hours.

It’s not yet clear which three Sundays will be chosen, but two are likely to be in the run up to Christmas.

Keystone-SDA/dos

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