Business News

Minister urges retail unions, employers to engage in talks

Ljubljana, 17 July (STA) - Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek has called on retail trade unions and employers to sit down and start talking after a bill on Sunday shop closure was sent into third parliamentary reading yesterday. He believes the opposition-sponsored bill is not an answer to the difficult economic situation post-coronavirus.

"We do not deny anyone the right to rest, but understanding the business environment and the current economic climate and knowing the forthcoming economic trends, I cannot agree with a populist presentation of only one side of the coin," Počivalšek wrote on Facebook on Friday.

He believes MPs voting for closing shops on Sunday, albeit with several exceptions, would prevent many retailers from operating sustainably in the tense economic situation.

The minister is particularly worried about smaller retailers, which he said are mostly family businesses with largely socially-friendly business modes.

If worried about retail workers' rights and the quality of their family lives, then this is what should be discussed as part of trade union-employer talks, he said.

Unlike the proposed bill, a deal between employers and unions could bring a solution to the situation in the retail business, said Počivalšek, pointing to "worrying trends in the labour market".

On Thursday, the National Assembly did not pass the bill on Sunday shop closure as had been expected, but sent it into third reading because two coalition and an opposition party managed to secure enough support for an amendment.

The move by the coalition SDS and SMC and the opposition SAB was immediately criticised by the Left party, which had filed the bill to parliament.

The party said delaying the bill's third reading until autumn would give retailers enough time to "lobby, exert pressure and to mislead with a view to undermine the bill".

A similar reaction came from the Trade Union of Shop Assistants, which accused the SDS, SMC and SAB of yielding to corporate pressure.

"Their move exposes the true face of parliamentary democracy, in which the interest of the people should have weight," the union said in a release.

It announced its plan to insist on worker's rights and Sunday shop closure, including by going on a strike if necessary.

Despite the latest development surrounding Sunday shopping, shops, expect shops at petrol stations and pharmacies, remain closed on Sundays and bank holidays under a government decree adopted as part of anti-coronavirus measures in March.

The Economy Ministry said today the decree will be in place until the government assessed there are no more reasons for it.

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