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Opinion is shifting decisively against longer Sunday trading in Belfast – Usdaw urges the council to hold a ‘weekend summit’

Date: 18 April 2018 Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw has today urged Belfast City Council to step away from their plans to extend Sunday trading hours and engage in a ‘weekend summit’ that would take a detailed look at what the city has to offer residents, visitors and tourists over the whole of the weekend.
The council has published the report of their latest consultation on longer Sunday and it shows that there has been a significant shift against the proposal with a majority in favour of the current arrangements. In 2017, out of 2,471 responses 62% said yes to longer Sunday trading, although the council ignored over 2,000 individual Usdaw members who signed a petition against the proposed changes. The latest consultation had 5,196 respondents and 50.7% rejected longer Sunday trading.
Usdaw responded to a Belfast City Council consultation with a resounding ‘no’ to extended Sunday trading, after their survey came out 94% against. The same survey in November 2016 found 85% of shopworkers were opposed to longer Sunday trading.
Paddy Lillis - Usdaw General Secretary Elect says: “Belfast City Council ran this consultation again, only a year after the last one, because they want to see whether attitudes have changed towards their proposal. The answer is yes, attitudes have changed with more than double the responses and a majority opposed to extended Sunday trading.
“It is time for the city council to stop chasing longer Sunday trading hours and take a holistic look at what the city has to offer at weekends. We have made it clear that we were more than willing to work alongside Belfast City Council and other interested parties to explore options that would deliver a real and meaningful boost to the weekend economy of Belfast. That is a reasonable and measured response.
“Belfast is my home city and I am proud of what it has to offer residents, tourists and visitors. There is simply no need to open shops for longer than the current five hours on a Sunday. We hope that city councillors will listen to our members and the majority of those who responded to the latest consultation.”
Results of Usdaw's Survey of Members: In March 2018 Usdaw repeated a survey (originally conducted in November 2016) of a representative group of 885 of our members working in retail in Northern Ireland. The results of this survey clearly demonstrate the strength of feeling of Usdaw members, and retail workers, on this subject:
  • 94% of respondents thought that shops should not open longer on Sundays (an increase of 9 percentage points since the 2016 survey).
  • 80% of respondents currently work at least some Sundays whilst over a quarter work every Sunday.
  • Almost two thirds of respondents said that they already come under pressure to work on Sundays.
  • Over half of respondents have some form of caring responsibilities, either for children or sick or elderly relatives of these, over three quarters work some Sundays already and over two-thirds are under pressure to work on Sundays. 49% find it difficult to arrange suitable alternative care whilst they are at work.
Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with over 430,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 28% over the decade. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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