Sun­day shop­ping: no room for com­pro­mise, Mr Vot­sis

E DII TO RII A L

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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