All limits on shop opening times removed
Shops and hairdressers can choose their own opening hours as they see fit from February 2016, the Finnish parliament decided in mid December. The Service Union United PAM expects employers to issue new working hours to their existing staff.
Extending shop opening hours has been developing gradually since the 1960's. In 2009 opening hours were extended especially with respect to Sunday. And this was designed to stimulate employment.
However, this failed to happen. The number of working hours per employee has not shown any uptick following this move. Instead, what we are seeing is a marked increase in the number of part time employees in all retail shops and in grocery shops in particular.
”I am especially concerned that we might be following the international trend where it is impossible for employees of retail shops to plan their future and rule their own economy”, says PAM chairperson Ann Selin.
For example in Germany and UK deregulation has led to a sharp rise in short-time jobs which in turn lead to difficulties for employees to make ends meet, Selin says.
PAM was opposed to the full liberalisation of opening hours. It is concerned about the effects on employees. The questions and concerns raised by PAM are are not being heard or scarcely taken into to account in the political discussion on the topic, which is dominated by ideologically motivated liberalisation.
Staff working alone has shot up by 30 per cent since the reform of 2009, PAM says. Retail is one of the branches where security is a real issue, the danger of violence is high.
”To improve security of retail employees has been one of the goals when updating the law on occupational safety”, Selin says. Now the Government is stressing voluntary measures instead. Selin is now demanding that occupational safety legislation be updated, as these voluntary measures have not been working.
Another issue raised by PAM is the need for child day-care and good public transport also in the evenings and at night. If working hours are to be extended even more than now, the need will be higher.
Public debate on a 24/7 society has been going on for a long time, writes PAM Magazine editor Auli Kivenmaa. In fact, the change has been a minor one.
”Working evenings or week-ends has during the last 20 years only been increasing steadily among one section of the population: women workers”, Kivenmaa says.