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Northern Ireland’s shopworkers overwhelmingly oppose plans to extend Sunday opening hours

Date: 13 January 2011 The shopworkers Union Usdaw has released survey results that show an overwhelming majority of Northern Ireland’s shopworkers strongly oppose plans to extend Sunday opening hours.

The Union surveyed over 1,000 members shortly before Christmas and a massive 73% said they were opposed to shops being allowed to open on a Sunday for more than the currently allowed five hours.

Over half of shopworkers who currently work on a Sunday said they were put under pressure by their employer to do so and 71% said that they would be put under even more pressure to work on Sundays if opening hours were longer. Only 54% of those who currently work on Sundays said they received any additional pay for doing so.

Concern for family life, maintaining a semblance of work/life balance and the need to attend religious services were the main reasons shopworkers said they opposed an increase in Sunday opening hours.

The union's survey results have been revealed on the day that Social Development Minister, Alex Attwood MLA, published a consultation paper setting out a number of options to change Northern Ireland's Sunday trading laws.

John Hannett, Usdaw General Secretary said:

"Usdaw will be making a formal written response to the consultation launched today but our members in Northern Ireland have made it very clear to us that they oppose any increase in Sunday opening hours."

"Shopworkers have an increasingly difficult time trying to balance work and family life and for many of our members, Sundays are the only day of the week they get any quality time to spend with their families. Any extension of Sunday opening hours is just going to make that situation worse."

Kieran Smyth, Usdaw Belfast Area Organiser said:

"Shopworkers are all too often put under pressure to work on a Sunday, often in an informal way that makes them feel that if they want to maintain a good relationship with their manager or even keep their job then they have no choice."

"Shops can already open 149 hours a week, 363 days of the year and Usdaw does not believe there is any clamour from the people of Northern Ireland for extending Sunday opening. If our society values family life at all, then I think people will make it very clear to the Minister that there should be no increase in Sunday trading hours."

Notes for Editors:

  1. Over 1,000 Usdaw members in Northern Ireland responded to a telephone survey commissioned by the union and conducted in the week beginning 13 December 2010.
  2. Sunday trading hours for shops in Northern Ireland are set out in the Shops (Sunday Trading &c.) (NI) Order 1997. Large shops (those with a floor area exceeding 280 square metres) are restricted to trading for a maximum of 5 hours between 1pm and 6pm on a Sunday.
  3. Usdaw (the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fourth biggest trade union, with over 395,000 members. Usdaw is the country's fastest growing trade union; membership has increased by more than 15% in the last four years and by over a quarter in the last 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.

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