10-September-2003 -- Catholic World News Brief |

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CROATIAN CATHOLIC LEADERS SEEK BAN ON SUNDAY SHOP OPENINGS

Zagreb, Sep. 10 (CWNews.com) - Labor laws in Croatia are being used to exploit tens of thousands of citizens, Catholic leaders have charged.

Archbishop Ivan Prendja, president of the Croatian Catholic charity Caritas and Bozo Vuleta , director of the Institute for the Culture of Peace, made the charge in a letter delivered to Prime Minister Ivica Racan this week. The letter accompanied a petition of calling for a ban on the Sunday opening of shops.

According to Croatiaa??s labor law, Sunday is a holiday, and therefore shops should not open. However in 2001 the Ministry of the Economy issued new rules, allowing local government bodies to make their own decisions on shop opening times. This new policy, the Catholic leaders claim, has led to violations of the spirit of the legislation.

The Croatian government is not in favor of the Sunday shop openings, but would prefer a strategy of discouragement and disincentives, rather than an outright ban. However, the prime minister himself admits that more needs to be done.

Support for the idea of a total ban is considerable. The 300,000 signatures on the petition represent 1 out of every 15 inhabitants of Croatia. Moreover, according to Caritas and the Institute for the Culture of Peace, their campaign against Sunday opening has the support of-- among other powerful groups-- the trade unions, the Chamber of Crafts, the Merchant Guild, members of parliament and, the Ministry of Crafts and the Ministry of Tourism. The case for a total ban is due to be discussed by the Croatian parliament later this month.

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