Croatian retailers sack workers as "never on Sunday" law kicks in

Croatia FlagZagreb - Under pressure from the church, Croatia banned shops from working on Sundays and retailers immediately began firing workers, the Slobodna Dalmacija daily said Thursday.

Large retail chains started first, in the first week of the year, saying they conducted one-fifth of their business on Sundays.

The Getro chain has let go 200 employees and Magma toy stores did not renew annual contracts with 155, the report said. Small, single stores are also expected to follow suit.

"If only 3 per cent of the workforce in retail trade is let go, that means 10,000 people in Croatia," the country representative of the Italian mall chain Emmezette said.

The conservative Premier Ivo Sanader's cabinet had been preparing the controversial law banning work on Sunday's over the previous four years.

The law was pushed through under pressure of the Catholic Church, which is the vastly dominant confession and very influential in Croatia.

A similar legislation, passed in 2004 by a Socialist-led government, was eventually toppled by the constitutional court as religiously discriminating and limiting the freedom of entrepreneurship. (dpa)