Usdaw presses Government for urgent assurance on Sunday trading hours

Date: 13 August 2012 The shopworkers' Union Usdaw has written to the Business Secretary Vince Cable to seek urgent assurance that the Government has no plans to permanently deregulate Sunday trading hours in England and Wales.

Speculation today and over the weekend suggests some Ministers are lobbying for a permanent deregulation of Sunday trading laws in the wake of the temporary suspension forced through Parliament for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

John Hannett, Usdaw General Secretary said:

"Parliament only agreed a temporary suspension of Sunday trading laws during the Olympic and Paralympic Games because the Government promised it was neither a trial nor Trojan horse for permanent deregulation. Any move to deregulate now would justifiably be seen as a betrayal of that commitment and a gross breach of trust.

"Longer Sunday opening hours won't put more money in the pockets of hard pressed shoppers and there is no evidence it would boost jobs or growth. It would however have a very detrimental impact on the family and caring commitments of our members and fly totally in the face of the Prime Ministers' commitment to lead a family friendly Government.

"With margins being squeezed and sales flat lining, the last thing the retail sector needs at the moment is the prospect of increased overheads for little or no return. If the Government really wants to boost retail and the economy as a whole then it would be much better advised to immediately reduce the rate of VAT."

Notes for Editors:

1. A survey of over 20,000 Usdaw members conducted immediately after the Chancellor's Budget in March found that:

  • 78% oppose the suspension of Sunday trading laws for eight Sundays during the Olympic Games this summer. Just 11% say they are in favour of suspension.
  • 51% say they come under pressure from their employer to work Sundays.
  • 73% say they would come under more pressure to work Sundays if shops were allowed to open for longer.

A similar survey conducted by Usdaw in 2011 found that 47% of members have caring responsibilities for children, elderly relatives or others that make it difficult to work on a Sunday.

2. Usdaw (the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fourth biggest and fastest growing trade union and has over 420,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 20% in the last six years and by nearly a third 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. For the latest news on Usdaw's campaigns visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/campaigns

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The official website of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers