Court orders temporary suspension of Sunday opening in retail sector

The Council of State plenum on Thursday agreed to temporarily suspend measures allowing shops to open on Sunday, granting a petition submitted by retailers, traders and private employee unions. This means that shops will be barred from opening on Sunday until the CoS plenum issues its final ruling on a case filed by the same groups against a ministerial orders that allowed Sunday opening on a pilot basis, in selected areas for a period of one year.

The case is to be discussed by the court in early November and a final ruling is expected at the end of 2014 or early 2015.

Based on the court’s reasoning, the opening of shops on Sunday would result in irreparable financial harm and “necessarily irreparable” moral damages to affected parties, due to loss of leisure time, the opportunity to spend time with their families during the shared Sunday holiday, as well as the right to worship.

It also accepted figures and studies supplied by the applicants showing potential financial damage in light of the economic crisis, noting that the administration had failed to produce figures or studies to counter these conclusions.

It rejected other arguments against the ministerial order presented by the applicants, however, such as that it violated the Geneva Convention establishing Sunday as a holiday and European directives, or a claim that the ministerial decree was issued outside the foreseen deadline.

The case before the CoS was brought jointly by the National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce (NCHC), the General Confederation of Professionals, Craftsmen and Merchants of Greece (GSEVEE), the Federation of Private Employees of Greece and the Thessaloniki Merchants Association, as well as two retail companies with shops in Athens and Thessaloniki and 10 individual merchants.

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