The European Sunday Alliance — a coalition of various trade unions, civil society organizations and religious communities — recently held its second Conference on Work-free Sundays and Decent Work at the European Parliament.
120 participants, including representatives of the Catholic Church, some Protestant churches and some non-governmental organizations, attended the conference on January 21, where a Pledge for a Work-free Sunday was launched.
“The Pledge is aimed at committing European politicians to the promotion of a common weekly day of rest as well as a legal framework guaranteeing sustainable working time patterns based on the principle of decent work,” the European Sunday Alliance said in its press release.
The pledge states:
"A work-free Sunday and decent working hours are of paramount importance for citizens and workers throughout Europe and are not necessarily in conflict with economic competitiveness. Especially in the present time of socio-economic crisis, the adoption of legislation extending working hours to late evenings, nights, bank holidays and Sundays has direct consequences for the working conditions of employees and for small and medium sized enterprises.
Competitiveness needs innovation, innovation needs creativity and creativity needs recreation!”
The European Sunday Alliance seeks to get members of the European Parliament to sign the pledge, thus promising to support a common day of rest.
But the recent conference did not garner much press attention, and many people see a Sunday law as an encroachment on religious freedom. It is perhaps especially hard to rally support for such a measure in secular Europe.
A previous attempt to specifically refer to Sunday in the EU rules on working time was defeated in 1996 by the European Court of Justice, which found insufficient links to the health and safety of workers – the main topic of the regulation.
“Legislation must never discriminate against people on religious grounds,” said Hannu Takkula, a Finnish member of the European Parliament and founding member of the recently formed European Parliament Working Group on Freedom of Religion or Belief.
A law setting up Sunday as the universal work-free day would do just that, Takkula said. He emphasized that freedom of religion and belief is a core European value.
Takkula also pointed out that though a Sunday conference may have been held at the European Parliament, he sees no Sunday law looming on the horizon.
The European Commission, which has the monopoly on legislative initiative in the European Union, has sent out no signals of interest in anything of this nature, Takkula said.
In 2011 the Spectrum blog reported on the Adventist reaction to the European Sunday Alliance. Read Loren Sebold's article here, and see ANN's article here.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/5793