PARIS, Sept 29 France's government is ready to
negotiate with retailers on Sunday-trading laws, though not on
late-night shopping, after two retailers decided to stay open
despite the threat of legal action.
Unions, trying to defend the 35-hour work week, are pitted
against some retailers and even some employees who want to
increase business at a time of record unemployment and stagnant
economic growth. Retailers Leroy Merlin and Kingfisher-owned
Castorama were open Paris and its suburbs this Sunday,
defying a court ruling on Thursday.
"The (Sunday-trading) law is a kind of machine that churns
out lawsuits," Budget Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told Europe 1
radio. "Given that there are some employees who want to work and
shoppers who today want to shop, could we not try to find some
kind of path to an appropriate response?"
His comments echoed those made by a junior minister for
trade, Sylvia Pinel. "We have inherited a kind of regulatory
'millefeuille'," she told Sunday newspaper Journal du Dimanche,
referring to a layered French cake and the different trading
regulations that apply in various districts.
"We will now work with sector professionals to address the
question of Sunday trading," she said.
Apparently referring to a separate legal ruling on Monday
that ordered LVMH-owned cosmetics store Sephora to
close its Champs Elysees outlet at 9 p.m. (2000 GMT) instead of
midnight, she said, "Late-night labour must remain the exception
in order to preserve the health and free time of employees."
"Flexibility is possible via employee-management talks but
reforming this law is unnecessary... It is always possible to
wait till tomorrow to make a purchase," she said.
No one at Leroy Merlin, Castorama, the prime minister's
office or the Elysee Palace of President Francois Hollande was
immediately available to comment.