Religious groups are worried about Sunday shopping plans

Religious parties and other organisations are unhappy at parliament’s backing for new rules on Sunday shopping, which will allow local councils to decide whether or not to allow shops to open.

In the Volkskrant ChristenUnie MP Carola Schouten writes the new rules mean a ‘serious infringement of the freedom of many people on a day of rest and relaxation’. The interests of small shop owners, churchgoers and staff are being ignored, Schouten maintains.
‘Small family businesses will feel pressured into opening up the shop because clients may go to their – bigger – competitor. Family time is being compromised. ‘But you don’t have to open, do you?’, people say. But that is a nonsense: this right will quickly become a duty if the business is to survive’. Schouten writes.
The Socialist Party takes a similar line. ‘It isn’t old-fashioned to agree on a day of rest, on the contrary, it’s very important in a world that is getting more hectic every day’, BNR Nieuwsradio quotes a spokesman for the party.
In Trouw, Fedde Monsma of Christian service workers’ union CNV writes that ‘shop workers rights have been ignored throughout the discussions’.
According to the law, working on a Sunday is a matter for every individual to decide but, says Monsma, in practice shop workers are practically forced into working on a Sunday. ‘The union receives numerous complaints from workers who say they are being threatened with dismissal if they refuse to work on a Sunday.’
Local authorities are supposed to ‘weigh workers’ interests, writes Monsma but the union has seen no sign of any consultation with shop workers by local authorities. ‘The freedom of hundreds of thousands of people will be compromised,’ Monsma warns.
The NRC quotes D66 MP Kees Verhoeven who claims ‘a large group doesn’t mind working on a Sunday’ and that many shop owners have been clamouring for the change.
The NRC thinks the number of shopping Sundays could theoretically go down to zero but will, in all likelihood, go up. ‘A lot of towns have been trying to pass themselves off as tourist areas. Now they don’t have to anymore’, the paper writes.

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