The Luxembourg Trade Confederation (Confédération luxembourgeoise du commerce - clc) has announced that negotiations with trade unions to extend Sunday working hours for the sector have failed.

For several weeks, the clc and the OGBL and LCGB unions have been negotiating to reach a national inter-professional agreement on Sunday working hours. The objective of these negotiations was to provide legal certainty and equal treatment in this area; the clc deemed the pre-existing legal situation "unsatisfactory".

The talks followed the revelation by the Inspectorate of Labour and Mines (Inspection du travail et des mines - ITM) at the end of last year that many retail employees were working more than the legally permitted four hours on Sundays.

The clc has now stated that it was forced to end the talks due to the "intransigence" and "dogmatic positions" of the OGBL. Conversely, the confederation maintained that the starting position of the LCGB would have allowed "a rapid agreement in the interest of all".

The clc made a third and final counter-proposal, the main elements of which were as follows:

  • Pre-existing collective agreements containing provisions for Sunday working hours must remain applicable as they stand;
  • For companies without a collective agreement, the clc first requested a maximum quota of 96 overtime hours per year and per employee, in addition to the four Sunday hours provided for by law. The clc also requested 50 hours of overtime per year without any additional compensation to those already provided for by law for Sunday work and proposed an additional day of leave for every 50 hours of overtime worked in a calendar year.

According to the clc, the unions rejected this proposal, thus putting an end to the talks. 

The clc and its members have insisted that their proposal was, from the start of negotiations, to ensure that Sunday work exceeding four hours be carried out exclusively on a voluntary basis. The principle of volunteering would have been accompanied by a monitoring committee, made up of unions and the clc, aimed at ensuring and monitoring exemplary implementation of the agreement.

They added that flexibility was needed, since many were apparently dissatisfied with the ability to work only four hours on Sundays and the current situation meant that companies were forced to employ more employees on Sundays.

The clc and its members also argued that the position of the OGBL "completely disregards the competitive situation" facing the trade. They maintained that the failure to reach an agreement will force several stores to longer open at all on Sundays, thus leading to a reduction in the number of employees in these stores.

The clc expressed regret over this situation but called on businesses in the sector to "scrupulously respect" the legislation in force, since the ITM will be carrying out additional checks in this area. That being said, the confederation addvised businesses to continue to request exemptions from the Minister of Labour, Employment and the Social and Solidarity Economy and urged the minister to respond and approve such requests on the basis of the socio-economic reasons presented above.