Decision of a German court: And the robots in the stores must rest on Sunday!

Court Illustration / Photo Archive

A court in the state of Hesse agreed with the union that automated shops cannot operate on Sundays, citing the 1.700-year-old Christian principle of "Sunday rest" which is part of the constitution.

Supermarket robots must, according to Christian principles, rest on Sundays, a German court has ruled, upholding a centuries-old ban on Sunday trading. The regional chain of stores Tegut, which is experimenting with about 40 fully automated stores, is going through a legal battle because the service sector union Verdi believed that stores that are open all the time can have bad consequences for the human workforce, reports Index.hr.

A court in the state of Hesse agreed with the union that automated shops cannot operate on Sundays, citing the 1.700-year-old Christian principle of "Sunday rest" which is part of the constitution.

The three judges made it clear in the ruling that the weekly holiday in Germany has a wider meaning than a day off. In doing so, they pointed to the Christian origin of the principles that were proclaimed more than 1700 years ago by the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great.

"Sunday rest" has been part of the German constitution since 1919, and was confirmed by the Constitutional Court in a 2009 decision.

"The verdict is grotesque, it's a machine gun," Tegut board member Thomas Stubb told the Financial Times, adding that this was in fact a type of machine gun. The Verdi union told the court that the continued operation of such shops could lead to a further relaxation of Sunday trading rules and that workers should be guaranteed a day off to spend time with their families. Tegut, a Swiss-owned supermarket, has about 300 conventional stores across the country and about forty innovative (automated) ones, where customers leave their ID at the entrance and then buy and pay for the selected item at the checkout. Headquarters states that there were more thefts at the automated stores, but that the final profit outweighed the losses.

In Germany, shops are not allowed to open on Sundays. Exceptions are restaurants, train stations, airports and gas stations.

"Our society needs a special day of the week where you can celebrate Christian values ​​and spend time with family and friends," said Philip Buttner of the Protestant Church, which lobbies against Sunday work.

However, those who advocate for the continued operation of automated stores believe that working on Sundays can benefit consumers.

"The alternative to kiosks and gas stations can create more competition and lower prices, which will benefit consumers," said economist Jan Buchel. The Hesse government has said it is ready to consider a legal exception for automated shops.

The court's decision only applies to the state area, so automated stores will still be able to operate in other German states.

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