In March more than 70 organizations, including churches, labor unions, and civil society groups, met for the first European conference on work-free Sundays. “As a matter of principle,” stated the Conference of European Churches in a press release, “all citizens of the European Union (EU) are entitled to benefit from a work-free Sunday.” Research shows improvement in worker health, family life, and civil society engagement when there is a shared work-free day. “We need more civil society alliances to counter the economization of all life,” Ulrich Duchrow, theologian and co-founder of Kairos Europa, told Sojourners. “Sunday, originally the Sabbath, is a gift of the biblical faith in God, the liberator of slaves from exploitative labor, to all peoples of the earth.”
Why Work-Free Sundays?
The Conference of European Churches is urging EU leaders to “safeguard and promote a work-free Sunday as a pillar of the European Social Model within the laws of their respective nations.” Campaign critics question whether naming Sunday—traditionally the Christian day of rest—as a common rest day disadvantages other religions. Others argue that this kind of decision should be made at the member-state level, rather than by the EU. The work-free Sunday proposal allows exceptions for essential services and recognizes pre-existing union contracts.
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