PAM warns against an open 24/7 society with liberalised shop opening hours in Finland

Friday 22 January 2016

UNI Europa affiliated union PAM is worried about potential negative effect on job stability a new law liberalizing shop trading hours in Finland could have. The law took full effect on 1st January 2016.

Large supermarket chains have already took the opportunity offered by the new provisions and changed their opening hours by, for instance, adjusting closing time. In Helsinki, some shops are already open 24 hours. However, most often, shops are trying out closing times between 22.00 and midnight. Owners of the supermarket chains intend to continue experimenting with hours and will assess the situation next autumn.

When it comes to staff, employees will receive extra pay for working late evenings and over the night. Employers have committed to first proposing these evening and night time hours to the permanent staff and so in parallel with the legislative reform employers are entering into negotiations over working hours with trade unions.

UNI Europa affiliated union PAM, which represents workers in the retail sector, has strongly criticized the new liberalization move. The organization claims that the government refused an open political debate and strongly opposes this new liberal approach. Ann Selin, President of PAM, declared herself to be “particularly concerned over what we are becoming by following the international trend where employees in retailing find it impossible to plan their futures or even participate in regulating their own business (…). In both Germany and in the UK deregulation has led to a significant rise in the number of short-term jobs, which in turn has led to financial problems for these employees who are not receiving enough pay.” In Finland, the proportion of part time staff in the sector has risen by 30% since the partial liberalization reform of 2009. PAM is worried that this trend will accelerate.

In addition, by allowing opening later in the evening and at night, the sector faces even more risks of violence, security problems being already a major issue for the retail sector. PAM criticized the government for not having adapted the legislation, thus leaving companies to take initiatives on possible measures to counter security risks. Therefore, PAM is calling for the government to adapt the law to take security issues into account. Finally, PAM stressed the need to review childcare and transportation facilities in order to address the new working hours.

Laila Castaldo, UNI Europa Commerce, said ”Liberalising shop opening hours is already a major trend in Europe. Finland just follows other countries such as the UK, Poland and Italy where opening 24/7 is already happening. While we oppose late and long opening hours, where this is the case, government and companies shall enter into dialogue with a view to prevent and minimize the negative effects on the workers’ health and their work-life balance”.

 

Photo credit: Tero Leponiemi

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