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Greece: Small businesses protest against new laws allowing Sunday trading

Greece: Small businesses protest against new laws allowing Sunday trading
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Shop owners, unions and the Orthodox Church have marched through the streets of Athens, united in protest against a law allowing shops to open on Sundays for the first time in a century.

Sunday is traditionally a day for families to get together in Greece, and many employees are concerned about being forced to work.

Small businesses say the change will only favour bigger stores at a time when few can afford to hire extra staff.

Thanos Vasilopoulos, general Secretary of the OIYE retail union said:“At a time when commerce here is literally collapsing, they are forcing businesses to stay open longer and spend more money, and so only a handful of multinationals will survive, and that is what the bailout and the government that serves it want.”

Despite the protests, Athens’ main shopping street was packed, with shoppers lured in by low prices and the novelty of Sunday shopping.

One shopper said: “Personally I like it, but it’s a shame for those who work here. I wouldn’t want to be a store clerk and work on a Sunday, but it is convenient for me since I work the rest of the week.”

The change in law was demanded by foreign lenders who want Greece’s recession-hit economy to be deregulated.

After opposition from small retailers and the Orthodox Church, the government backed down on Sunday trading every week, instead saying it would for now be seven Sundays a year.