Today, Independence Day, shops all over Poland are shut, due to a law made by the previous government demanding that all retail workers have the day off.
It’s the legacy of the Kaczynski administration. The Solidarity trade union, which was generally supportive of that government, now wants to extend the ban on retail working to every Sunday in the year, instead of just being limited to 11 national holidays.
Only petrol stations and a few other essential services are excluded from the current law.
And if the owner, not an employee, wants to go and open the shop and trade, then they are allowed to.
Going around the few local shops that were open today (all supermarkets have had to close, of course) the results have been a little comic.
Take the grocery shop under the block where I live. The owners and their two kids have been busy all day, serving a higher than usual number of customers, with no regular staff to help out. The problem being that these people may be the owners of the shop, but they appear to know very little about what is actually on the shelves.
The male shop owner is struggling the most, as his super bossy wife stalks the shop, directing operations like General Schwarzkopf.
He’s OK if you ask, as I did, for tomatoes. But when I asked him for the ‘Frontera Chardonnay, po prosze’, he was a little perplexed. I had to explain to him it was a white wine. He rushed into the back of the shop to ask his wife where to find it. After what sounded like a strangling noise for some moments - gurgglll - he re-emerged, red faced, and made for the wine shelves.
I then produced my debit card. He stared at it for a while, then went running back into the backroom to fetch the wife. He seemed wary and suspicious of the new fangled debit card machine. After a brief period of more violent activity, wife comes storming to the till, with husband following sheepishly behind...
And it so it went on...
I felt sorry for the guy. Whether his employees work on national holidays should be between him and his small workforce. This is simply not the State’s business. If employers are made to pay a decent rate at weekends – then shops and customers should be free to use days off as they see fit.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Posted by beatroot at 11/11/2007