“A poisoned chalice”, said Chris Van Droogenbroeck, national secretary of LVC-NBK (ACV), commenting the proposition by Open Vld to extend retail opening hours until 10:00pm. “Liberals say they want to help small businesses, but they should realise they are kicking the stuffing out of SMEs,” he explains. Mr. Van Droogenbroeck reckons that the sector is already struggling and that this proposition will not create new jobs. On Monday Flemish liberals spelled out the details of the draft legislation they unearthed in order to allow shops to stay open until 10:00pm. The draft will be discussed in committee at the Chamber in coming weeks.
“Currently, the law allows shops to stay open until 8:00pm or 9:00pm, but only large chain stores do this,” adds the union leader. He believes most small shop owners do not wish to stay open until 10:00pm. He highlights problems with additional costs for employees without having a real impact on turnover.
Finally, according the union leader, employees are not keen to work longer hours. “They already work later than the official times, until 9:00pm or 9:30pm. Many shop assistants (43%) are under 35 and have young families and children, so it is complicated for them to work evenings,” states the secretary of the liberal union.
He also rejected Open Vld’s proposition to “give shop owners more leeway in managing their business. That ‘freedom’ is detrimental to employees of large chain stores whose work hours will be even more irregular,” reckons the union.