The people of Geneva refuse to extend the opening hours of the shops

A little no, but still a no. This Sunday, almost 54% of Geneva residents refused to change the opening hours of shops, for the seventh time since 1988. So there is no question of an extra hour of shopping on Saturday and three Sundays a year, in addition to December 31, even if the project also included the disappearance of nighttime openings on Thursdays. A victory for the left and the unions that launched the referendum in the name of protecting working conditions in the sector. The hours therefore remain unchanged. Opening three Sundays a year remains possible, but subject to the existence of an extended collective labor agreement.

“Recognition” for Sales Personnel

So, a few days after Black Friday and its crazy offers, the people of Geneva are rejecting the bill of the Council of State, passed by the Grand Council last April, which is supposed to stimulate local trade, shopping tourism and sales in fight line. For the left, the message is very clear today: we need to stop worrying about shopping hours all the time. “The population realized that this expansion was pointless and was a way to boost consumption,” rejoices Jocelyne Haller, Ensemble à Gauche delegate, underlining the bad faith that parasitized the campaign. † The vote of the day is also, in his eyes, a “recognition” for the work of the sales staff, “on the front line during the crisis”.

“The population has understood the fundamental issues of this vote,” added Pablo Guscetti, Unia union secretary, stressing that, unlike the vote four years ago, this is not an experimental project. Profits at all costs cannot justify a deterioration in the working conditions of the staff, he said. What about the crisis affecting local trade? The union secretary responds by citing figures from the cantonal statistics office that finds the situation “downright good” in the food sector and “satisfactory” in the non-food sector, according to figures from September 2021.

Also read: Do store opening hours affect consumption?

On the bosses side, morale is at half-mast. Louise Barradi, president of the Geneva Trade Federation and also director of operations at Fleuriot, notes with regret and concern the result. “The sales sector, which represents 20,000 jobs, is still very weakened by the crisis, this vote was a way out adapted to the habits of consumers that have changed,” she believes.

Bosses are concerned

What was missing from the campaign? “Hard to say,” she confides, perhaps referring to the extra hour on Saturday being associated with the three Sundays. How do you envision the sequel? “I am very concerned about the future of local trade, of course the industry has to reinvent itself, but we have to give ourselves the resources. Do we want people to continue to buy via the internet or rather in the shops close to home, which also makes it possible to breathe new life into the inner city?

An “instrumented” voice

Vincent Subilia, director-general of the Geneva Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services, speaks of a “missed opportunity”. “This vote was instrumentalized by the trade unions, who dogmatically turned it into a battle of principle,” he denounces, emphasizing that it was just a matter of harmonizing the schemes at the merchants’ request, “between a rock and a rock.” hard place in Geneva, between retail tourism and online commerce, in a situation exacerbated by the health crisis.” “In the end, the annual number of hours was lower with the new project,” he recalls, promising work back on track to get.

Also read: Sunday opening of shops: unions in Geneva return to the fray

The Council of State takes note of this vote. “It is clear that the public felt that this change would have too much impact on the sales force”, says Fabienne Fischer, head of the economy and employment department. For the Council of State, “concerned by the retail situation”, the priority is now to “renew the social dialogue” between the different partners. Does the rescue of local trade necessarily involve a time change? The magistrate acknowledges that this is not the only solution. “You have to think more broadly about the future of the sector.”

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