The meeting took place after City councillors deferred a decision to designate Belfast as a ‘holiday resort’, which would allow shops to open for longer on Sundays, and accepted a proposal by Usdaw and Retail NI for a ‘weekend summit’.
Michala Lafferty – Usdaw Area Organiser says:
“Today was not the ‘weekend summit’ we called for, which councillors supported, but we did have a frank exchange of views. We made it clear that we want to work with all the key stakeholders and partners to concentrate on where we can make progress on animating the city on a Sunday morning, but not at the expense of shopworkers coming under even more pressure to work longer hours on Sundays.
“We welcome a proposal by Retail NI for a ‘Small Shop Sunday’ campaign, which would encourage shoppers and visitors to use the smaller independent retailers who currently open on Sunday mornings, before the large stores open at 1pm. It allows small independent retailers to complement the larger retailers and can be put in place immediately as it requires no legislative changes. This proposal has a great deal of merit and is worthy of support from city councillors.
“The current Sunday trading arrangements are a fair compromise, which has worked well for over 20 years, and gives everyone a little bit of what they want. Retailers can trade, customers can shop, staff can work; whilst Sunday remains a special day, different to other days, and shopworkers can spend some time with their family. The Retail NI proposal totally respects that fair compromise.
“We are hopeful that city councillors will again reject extending Sunday trading in large stores and support the Retail NI reasonable and measured response to the challenge of enhancing Belfast’s weekend economy. Their ‘Small Shop Sunday’ campaign ticks all the boxes. There is no change whatsoever for shopworkers, Belfast is vibrant and alive, with tourists having somewhere spend their money. So everyone should be happy.”
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