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Councils not enforcing Sunday trading laws must provide guarantees that this is a strictly temporary measure says Usdaw

Date: 02 April 2020 Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw is urging councils that are considering not enforcing Sunday trading laws, allowing stores to open for longer, to proceed with caution and guarantee that it is strictly a temporary measure until the immediate crisis has eased.
Usdaw also urges retailers to open for limited additional hours, only where it is necessary, and to ensure that pressure to work additional hours is not put on already overworked staff. Shopworkers are also essential workers.

Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “We have long believed that the current compromise around Sunday trading is the right one, one that allows customers to shop, stores to trade, and provides our members and other retail workers with guaranteed time away from work in what is an increasingly 24/7 society.

“We are facing a national crisis, with our members on the frontline of continuing to serve their communities and keep the food supply chain moving. We appreciate the sentiment behind the call and want to see all of our key workers supported at this difficult time. However, we do not believe that longer trading hours on a Sunday are part of the answer.

“Many retailers are struggling to maintain staffing levels, keep shelves stocked and closing their stores earlier throughout the week to replenish stock, install additional safety measures, deep clean stores, and take some of the pressure off their staff.

“Shops are now coping much better than last week, shoppers are adjusting and stores are putting in effective measures. While in some places there are large queues around opening time, shops are relatively quiet later in the day and there is still plenty of stock on the shelves. Opening for longer on a Sunday would simply make the busy times earlier and the quieter times longer, it makes no sense. With more people currently working from home and shopping only permitted for essential supplies, there is no reason why weekends should be any busier than normal.

“We are aware that some local authorities have stated that they will not prosecute illegal Sunday trading.  Given the extent of the crisis the country is facing, we are not going to pursue this, although I’m not sure how much this will benefit key workers or reduce the pressure on the shops.  However, we are only willing to accept this as a short-term temporary situation and we expect the co-operation of shopworkers to be respected and the situation to revert to compliance with the existing trading regulations once the immediate crisis has eased.  Seeking longer term variation of the trading laws is taking advantage of shopworkers’ good will.

“We are working with our members and retailers every day to keep the food supply chain moving and to keep retail workers safe and we support measures that would genuinely help other key workers. We would be more than prepared to discuss meaningful and effective measures to ensure that key workers can access essential supplies, but a blanket deregulation of Sunday trading is unlikely to help those who need it and would simply increase pressure on those working to resolve them.”

Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with over 400,000 members. Membership has increased by more than one-third over the last couple of decades. 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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The official website of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers