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Conference in the Polish Parliament on protection of Sunday as a public good

On 8th March 2016 in the Polish Parliament building in Warsaw the conference under the theme: “Changes in the Polish trade” was organized. The organizers were: The National Section of Commerce Sector Workers of “Solidarity” Trade Union in cooperation with the Parliamentary Team for the Promotion of Entrepreneurship and employers’ organizations from the commerce industry. The conference was chaired by Alfred Bujara – the President of the National Secretariat of Banks, Commerce and Insurance of TU “Solidarity” and the Polish MP Adam Abramowicz.

The conference was devoted to two topics: the legal protection of Sunday as a public good and a draft law on trade in the perspective of equality of opportunity in the industry.

Among the panelists there were Professor Josephine Hrynkiewicz, Dr. Katarzyna Orlak, Csaba Bubenko of the Independent Trade Union of Workers KDFSz from Hungary and numerous representatives of employers from the retail sector. “Solidarity” Union is a strong supporter and initiator of the introduction of the legal protection of Sunday as a day free from work.

Employers grouped in Leviathan and in the Polish Trade and Distribution Organization are against, but many Polish employers support our solutions. We are not afraid of layoffs, since right now the employment in the commerce industry is at a minimum level – argued Alfred Bujara, President of the National Secretariat of Banks, Commerce and Insurance of “Solidarity” Trade Union. – The turnover and Gross Domestic Product will not decrease because of the law safeguarding the free Sunday, because the trade will move to other days of the week, especially to Friday and Saturday. It will be on Saturday that there will be the need for an increased number of employees to handle the increased trade in stores – he stressed.

Alfred Bujara also pointed at a number of exemptions from the legal day off on Sunday. – We do not want to go from one extreme to the other one, to completely restrict trade on Sunday – emphasized Alfred Bujara. – Thus we want to be the possibility to trade by small shops to 50 sq. meters where sales are led by the owner or members of his family, as well as we want that pharmacy outlets, kiosks and petrol stations are kept open on Sunday.

Work-free Sundays in commerce are supported by many employers’ organizations with the exception of Leviathan. Jeremi Mordasewicz from Leviathan said that “we can not afford closing stores on Sundays as the reduction of trade on Sundays will increase unemployment and reduce economic growth which will lead to the negative impact on GDP”. In a panel discussion on the taxation of trade industry experts pointed out that trade is regulated in many European countries, but in a way that ensures equality for all players on the market. The President of the Chamber of Commerce Wieslaw Michalowski was talking on that issue when he was presenting assumptions for the draft law on trade in Poland. Looking at the position of employers’ organizations of the retail sector it is visible that many of them strongly support the introduction of the legal limitation on Sunday trading. – We open stores on Sundays, not to go out of business. We believe, however, that work on Sundays is evil, especially for women – said one of the employers representing Spolem Company.

“Solidarity” Trade Union would like this conference to open a wide discussion in Poland on the limitation of commerce on Sundays. The Union also believes that the discussion will lead to introducing the law on limitation of trade on Sundays in Poland during this tenure of the Parliament.

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