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Shops owners and workers protest against Sunday opening

Stores remained closed and workers and shopkeepers  marched through the streets of Athens protesting the introduction of Sunday opening for shops. The provision to open stores 30 Sundays per year is part of the additional austerity deal Greece signed with creditors beginning of the week.

The protest occurs on the Sunday were shops were supposed to be open due to mid-spring sales period.

Slogan: “No to opening hours of the multinationals. Sunday is the workers’ day.”

Owners of very small, small and medium shops protest the new measure saying that it serves the interests of big businesses.

“The resumption of the Sunday opening is an initiative of specific business interests in the country, while the lenders actually mediate to meet the demand of large multinational businesses, chain groups and shopping malls,” the Hellenic Confederation of Professionals, Craftsmen & Merchants (GSEVEE) said in a statement.

GSEVEE Strike poster: “We close for a day so that we don’t close for ever”

The strike was joined also by Hellenic Confederation of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (ESEE)

Shops in Greece will be open 30 Sundays per year and not just eight as it became custom in the last years of bailout agreements. However, professional associations of workers and employers react to the measure claiming the big stores will swallow the small ones.

Shops will be open in touristic areas such as the center of Athens, along the South Attica coast form Piraeus to Cape Sounion, in some areas of Piraeus, around the international airport of Athens Eleftherios Venizelos and in some areas in Thessaloniki, Northern Greece.

In January, the Council of State ruled that opening shops on Sundays is against the Greek Constitution and the right of workers to relax and bond with their families.

Artisans, shopkeepers and workers had appealed to the Council of State to cancel a ministerial decision of 2014 that was allowing opening of shops on Sundays in eight regions of Greece.

Workers fear that they will not be paid overtime but in best case they will get one day off instead during the week.

In times of recession and economic crisis, many employers do not pay workers full salary in time, while part-time contracts have reached 60 percent.

Protests were held in Athens and Thessaloniki.

ESEE said on Monday that 85% of shops did not open the previous day.

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