Sunday yes, Sunday no. In the last two days two episodes have re-launched, on harsher terms, the controversy on the next, or maybe possible, law of shutting shops and shopping centres down, on public holidays.
Last Monday Milan Mayor, Giuseppe Sala, after a discussion, not exactly in a gently manner, with the Minister of Labor, Luigi Di Maio, has suggested a referendum consultation to reject the possible applicable law.
Yesterday, however, the news regarding the conclusion of the negotiation for the sale of Cigierre, an holding company which the most popular restaurant brands belong to. This is due to the perplexities of foreign investors due to the negative impact on revenues following the possible implementation of the decree.
The contents and timing of the law, which should abolish the liberalisation introduced at the end of 2011 by the Monti government, are not yet clear. Five different bills are being examined by the Chamber's Productive Activities Committee, and the approval process does not seem to be quick.
On the table there are numbers, principles and anachronisms. Today there are 19 million Italians who take advantage of the holidays to do some shopping, not to mention the tourist flow. On Sunday, today, it accounts for 20% of the weekly turnover of Italian distribution. The value of overtime work during holiday time is around 400 million euros. The possible fallout on employment, due to the simple reduction of the working days, can be estimated in the tens of thousands.
Solidarity of principle towards workers in precarious working conditions must be respected. But it is easy to misunderstand the ban on Sunday work and the right to rest, which takes into consideration the compliance to contractual conditions.
In this regard, it should be considered that undeclared work is a national scourge especially in medium and small business realities, where guarantees for the employee are often neglected. Instead, it is easier to think that distribution chains do not apply pejorative treatments compared to national contracts, and that they comply more closely with occupational safety criteria. The position of workers who are directly affected, however, appears naturally uneven.
In Italy, the current code is not an exception in the European panorama, where 16 out of the 28 Member States do not place any limitations. We hope that "to stop trading" on Sunday, is not common sense.