The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

Criticism from left to right of the draft for more Sunday working hours

The planned relaxation of the ban on working on Sundays in urban tourist hotspots is meeting with some resistance: for the middle classes and the cities, the opening goes too far, while the left and trade unions are opposed to any softening.

With the revision of the Ordinance to the Employment Act, the Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER) wants to create the conditions for stores "in urban districts with international tourism" to be allowed to employ staff on Sundays throughout the year.

Only seven cities

However, the exception would be limited to cities with more than 60,000 inhabitants. In addition, the proportion of foreign hotel guests would have to be at least 50 percent.

This means that only Zurich, Geneva, Lucerne, Basel, Lausanne, Bern and Lugano would currently be eligible. The cantons would have to designate appropriate districts in the cities and restrict the range of goods sold. In turn, employees would also be entitled to substitute rest periods. The consultation period for the bill expired at the end of the week.

The conservative parties and the city and tourism associations welcome the project in principle. However, they are all calling for various adjustments: The SVP and FDP, for example, would like to see the requirement for the required number of inhabitants and overnight stays reviewed or removed altogether, especially if towns or municipalities have a historic old town. In its current form, the provision distorts competition, writes the SVP.

Controversial product range restriction

Both parties reject the product range restriction. According to the SVP, this would prevent tourists from being offered a shopping experience on Sundays as well. The FDP also takes issue with the additional compensation for employees.

The Association of Cities and Towns has a similar view: it also supports the "desired attraction of city tourism", but can only agree to this if the cities can determine their own tourist districts. While the association understands the restriction to cities with many international tourists, it cannot understand the limit of 60,000 inhabitants.

Hotelleriesuisse even describes the draft as "unusable" due to the restriction of the range of goods, although the association is generally in favour of liberalized Sunday opening hours. This would miss the goal of making the districts more attractive through "an attractive shopping experience".

Center for restrictions, left against bill

The situation is slightly different in the center: It also supports the proposal, as it would increase the attractiveness of Swiss cities for tourists. At the same time, however, it is important that no incentives are created for national shopping tourism. It is therefore in favor of the restrictions on both cities and the range of goods on offer, as well as the protection of employees.

The Greens and the trade unions are completely opposed to any weakening of the ban on Sunday working. This is unnecessary and has been repeatedly rejected by the electorate and sales staff, write the Greens. Against this background, weakening the protection of female employees is not appropriate.

Travail.Suisse and the Swiss Catholic Women's Association write that they would be the ones to suffer from further liberalization. The bottom line is that no economic added value is to be expected, but rather falling productivity, an increasing shortage of skilled workers and rising costs for the public purse. In addition, the work-free Sunday is of great value to employees and society.

The SP also rejects the amendment to the ordinance as a "weakening of employee protection". The party sees no need to further undermine the ban on Sunday working. Sunday sales are already possible in urban tourist areas, depending on the individual case. Meanwhile, the definition of urban tourist areas is too vague and arbitrary for the party.

©Keystone/SDA

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