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Usdaw seeks urgent confirmation of continued SNP opposition to Government Sunday trading changes

Date: 27 February 2016 Shopworkers’ trade union leader John Hannett has today written to the SNP’s business spokesperson, Hannah Bardell MP, seeking an urgent meeting to confirm their continued opposition to a Government amendment to the Enterprise Bill on Sunday trading, because of the potential impact on Scottish retail staff.

Angus Robertson MP, leader of the SNP in Westminster, correctly identified that impact last November and called for “firm proposals for safeguards and guarantees to ensure shop workers are not left worse-off following any changes to Sunday trading”, and that longer Sunday trading “should not be happening on the back of often low paid shop workers in Scotland and throughout the UK.”

John Hannett – Usdaw General Secretary says: “Scottish MPs are right to be concerned about the effects on the pay of Scottish shopworkers if there is extended Sunday trading across the UK. Retailers have in the past reduced or removed Sunday premiums to offset the costs of opening stores for longer. If that happens again in UK-wide companies, we have no doubt that Scottish shopworkers will pay the price of longer opening hours in England and Wales.

“We were surprised to hear the SNP spokesperson welcome Government provision of additional employee protections at the committee stage of the Bill because there is nothing that the Government has offered that protects pay. We would also caution against accepting any assurances from employers after the 1994 pledge by the Shopping Hours Reform Council to maintain double-time Sunday premiums lasted less than twelve months and now few retailers pay that rate.

“The SNP took a strong position on protecting Scottish shopworkers pay and that threat looms as large today as it did before Christmas. So Scottish shopworkers would feel betrayed if SNP MPs did anything other than maintain their opposition to the Sunday trading clauses in the Enterprise Bill. It would be an enormous u-turn if they were to now side with a Conservative Government determined to damage the livelihoods of shopworkers across the UK.”

The Sunday trading proposal is now expected to be put to a vote of all MPs (EVEL does not apply) during the Enterprise Bill’s Report Stage on 8 or 9 March.

Notes for editors:

Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fourth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with over 440,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 17% in the last five 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 Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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