Shopkeepers in Groningen who are refusing to open up shop on a Sunday are facing fines of €500 for every infraction by owners’ association VvE, public broadcaster NOS reports.
The long-running conflict centres around shopping centre Paddepoel in Groningen where some of the retailers are refusing to open their shops on a Sunday although the terms of their lease oblige them to do so.
But, shopkeepers say, the conditions regarding opening times were altered to increase Sunday trading without all members of the shopkeepers’ association agreeing to the change.
‘The VvE has adopted it as if it were a wish of the majority and that is not true but now it is in the lease and we are forced to abide by it,’ according to Martin Haijkens, owner of Paddepoel Fietsen. Haijken is being taken to court by the VvE for non-payment of an accumulated fine of €60,000 in November.
The main objection of the shopkeepers is the fact that opening up their shops on a Sunday is too expensive, while some say it impacts on their family life.
‘It’s not only about our refusal to open up on Sunday but also the obligation to open on Thursday evening, Haijkens told NOS. ‘We have been dealing with this since 2014. We are open 53 hours a week. That is enough. With our staffing levels we simply can’t put in the extra hours.’
Neither the VvE nor Groningen city council which has nominated a mediator, were prepared to comment, NOS writes.
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