Zurich court bars fully automated store from opening on Sundays

Zurich court bars fully automated store from opening on Sundays

The Unia trade union in Switzerland has won quite a strange legal battle against the supermarket giant Migros. As a result, even robots in the alpine nation have to take a day off on Sundays, as a court in Zurich ruled that a self-checkout-only store near Zurich main station cannot open on Sundays or holidays.

Swiss store accused of replacing workers with machines

The small Migros Daily store on Zollstrasse opened in October 2020 as one of the company's first “unmanned stores.” In it, you will find no workers or shopping clerks, only a wall of self-checkout machines and a few security staff.

The concept was soon taken to court by the Unia trade union, who were unhappy about the store replacing paid staff with machines. They also accused the company of “circumventing” the requirement that all shops shut on Sundays, as even if there are no shopping staff, security guards are always present at the store.

Swiss stores are required to give Sunday as a day off

On Monday, a court in Zurich ruled in the union's favour. In their decision, they noted that despite the fact security staff have a special dispensation to work on Sundays, if there were to be a spillage or security incident at the shop, it would be up to them to “work” in the store to solve the issue, breaching Sunday working rules. They also contended that the supply of fresh bread sent to the shop, which then needs to be reheated, also constitutes working on Sunday.

“Migros will not succeed in trying to replace the sales staff,” said Unia spokeswoman Nicole Niedermüller. To the union, it is yet another attempt to legalise working on Sunday via the back door by replacing employees with “security staff” and automated machines.

Migros is still able to appeal the case at the Federal Supreme Court in Lausanne. The automated shop will remain open until a final judgement is made.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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