Fabian Demicoli

Majority of GRTU Members in favour of less restrictions on opening hours


GRTU has last week presented the results of an extensive
survey it conducted amongst is members owner of enterprises. The survey was
carried out in February by GRTU staff and university students engaged
specifically for this project. A total of 500 interviews were conducted with
the various sectors GRTU represents.

In order to ensure quality interviewers gave
respondents adequate attention and clarifications where required. They also
gave respondents adequate time to reply to the questions and express their
feelings on the subject. It transpired that a good number of respondents were
passionate on the subject and many also were not sufficiently aware of the shop
opening hours rules that are in place today and how this applies to them.

GRTU President Paul Abela said that GRTU has only
taken the views of shop owners as we do not represent employees or consumers
and our members have answered according to what they think will help their
business. Mr Abela also emphasised however that GRTU's position is that employees
needed to be paid according to the law at all times.

Marcel Mizzi, GRTU Council Member, presented the
results of the survey and said that GRTU was surprised to see a strong support
wanting to decide for themselves if they wanted to open or not. Members of the
GRTU have been divided on this issue for a long time and as can be seen through
the survey diverging views are still present today, even amongst the GRTU
Council.   

The results of the survey were presented to Hon Chris
Cardona who was very interested in the results , praised he methodology by
which it was undertaken and said that the results will be very useful for the
work the Ministry is carrying out prior to the issuance of the white paper on
shop opening hours. The Minister said that as announced in the Budget 2014
speech the Ministry is consulting with all interested stakeholders and GRTU is
a main stakeholder in this regard.

The current law makes distinctions between different
types of shops which may not be sensitive enough to the type of enterprise and
its clientele. Hon. Cardona mentioned two of the recommendations made by
stakeholders:

1. Shops would be
allowed to choose their day of rest instead of imposing the same day on
everyone.

2. Shops would be
allowed to open until 10pm from Thursday to Saturday.

The Minister said that the change once enacted should
increase competition and should give owners more discretion as long as the
regulatory parameters such as those concerning wages are observed.

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