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Minister rejects Sunday opening

Leading Socialist MPs had called for DIY shops to be allowed to open for trade

LABOUR Minister Michel Sapin has refused calls from Socialist MPs to ease the laws against Sunday shop opening, saying he would not “nibble away” at such an “important part of workers’ lives”.

Speaking on RTL radio he said the situation was very complex and the law made it more complex. He highlighted the fact that a majority of French people wanted shops open on Sundays – but an equally large majority were opposed to working Sundays themselves.

Ile-de-France MPs led the call for change with National Assembly president Claude Bartolone and Socialist group leader Bruno Le Roux, both Seine-Saint-Denis MPs, writing Sapin to call for DIY shops to be allowed to open on Sundays.

Sundays are already a legal rest day but there are many exceptions, and the Sarkozy government extended some of these to allow shops to open in tourist areas.

President Sarkozy said he had ordered the change after having to call Paris shops to get them to open on Sunday for US First Lady Michelle Obama.

President Hollande said during his election campaign last year that he would start talks to get a better balance between the rights of shopworkers and the needs of shopowners – but added that it was a “controversial” subject.

Unions have taken large shops to court over Sunday opening and DIY store Bricorama narrowly avoided a €37million damages payment for flouting trading laws after a judge ruled the union bringing the case had not supplied official proof.

DIY stores want to be allowed to open on Sundays like furniture stores and garden centres.

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