Sunday shopping: no room for compromise, Mr Votsis
E DII TO RII A L
DIKO, the centrist party that suffers from the Jekyll-and-Hyde syndrome on almost every issue that affects the nation, has once again shot itself in the foot and does not seem to be able to find a way out of the dilemma it faces.
Little did the “as the wind blows” party know that when it joined opposition AKEL in the most stupid of parliamentary decisions to regulate and clamp down on Sunday shopping and working hours, that it was duped into a dead-end that serves no other purpose than the lazy members of the communist party and their trade union. After several weeks of postponing a decision on the new regulation, now that it has been ungracefully removed from the remit of the Labour Minister, the House Labour Committee failed to reach a deal and is left with a compromise – to allow Sunday shopping hours, but to designate areas as ‘tourist’ and ‘non-tourist’ areas.
The two hoteliers’ association, PASYXE and STEK, are dead against this new discrimination that will create two levels of tourist areas, affecting employment, transport and property values.
They rightly say that “the whole of Cyprus is a tourist destination”. And this comes at a time when the Shacolas Group, the biggest retail company on the island, said it plans to build a new Superhome Centre in Larnaca, pumping 8 mln euros into the cash-starved town and creating 100 new jobs.
A number of people were right to take their protest from parliament to the doorstep of Labour Committee Chairman Angelos Votsis in Limassol who is trying to find a compromise between the government proposal to allow market forces to determine the flow of consumers (locals and tourists alike) and the die-hard Stalinist view that no shops should be allowed to remain open on Sundays and that they abuse labour rights.
As far as we know, there are no sweat shops in Cyprus. No one is forced to work seven days in a row or more than 40 hours a week. Those who do, get compensated, or at least, get to keep their jobs which is no joke at a time of 16% unemployment.
The fact that Mr Votsis has not yet realised that the Old Town of Nicosia is a tourist attraction, just goes to show how many times he has visited the old part of the capital.
Would he be happy to see his own constituents barred from opening their businesses in the Castle area near the Old Port on Sundays? Hardly.
Then again, Mr Votsis hails from a profession (pharmacists) who have steadfastly held on to their closed-shop attitude and refuse to allow a liberal reform of their sector. By not supporting the government proposal and opting for a compromise, DIKO will once again justify those who accuse it of being destructive instead of creative.
Hopefully, Messrs Akinci and Anastasiades will reach a solution sometime soon and locals and tourists alike will be free to shop from wherever they want, and whenever. This includes pharmacies in the north where the same medications are sold at a fraction of their price in the ‘liberalised’ sector of the Republic.