In a passionate debate at the Union's ADM in
Blackpool, delegate after delegate spoke out against the proposals
and the detrimental impact deregulation would have on their family
life and the ability of shop and distribution workers to maintain a
semblance of work-life balance.
Delegates are proud the UK is hosting the
Olympics, but speakers were dismissive of Government assurances
that the proposed suspension for the Games was not a prelude to
total deregulation. Delegates clearly felt any suspension was the
thin end of the wedge and an attempt by the Tory-led Coalition to
deregulate Sunday trading by the backdoor.
Speakers complained that the Government had
provided no evidence that the suspension would help jobs, growth or
tourism and pointed out that it would be existing staff who would
be pressured into working longer and more unsocial hours.
Deregulation would also further accelerate the erosion of premium
rates of pay for working Sundays and other unsocial hours.
Small retailers are opposed to the proposals
and many large retailers are also against them because they
understand that, for the vast majority of them, takings would
remain the same but overheads would be pushed up, at a time when
margins are already being severely squeezed.
Delegates heard that Usdaw has again written
to MPs and to all members of the House of Lords to urge them to
vote against the proposals and that thousands of Usdaw members have
already contacted their MP to do the same.
Rounding up the debate, John
Hannett, Usdaw General Secretary said:
"At last year's ADM we were encouraging
members to respond to the Government's Red Tape Challenge
consultation on the deregulation of Sunday trading. Members
responded in their thousands and the Tories retreated, admitting
that the majority of respondents to the consultation did not want
further deregulation. Yet, here we are again with another attempt
"For some reason, the Government have decided
that during the most important world festival of sport, what the
general public really wants to do is go shopping. As a result,
Usdaw members' right to family time on a Sunday is once again under
threat. Usdaw wants to see a successful Olympics, but there is no
need or widespread demand for extended Sunday trading in the run up
to and during the Games."
"Usdaw members, like anyone else, have a right
to enjoy the Olympics and shopworkers have a right to have family
time on a Sunday protected by limits on Sunday trading."
"Despite the fact that shopworkers, the public
and many businesses are opposed to the proposals, the Government is
ploughing on with their ill thought out and rushed legislation. We
will do everything possible to oppose this latest attempt to
deregulate Sunday trading and will continue to campaign during the
next two weeks as the legislation is discussed in Parliament."
Notes for Editors:
1. A survey of over 20,000 Usdaw members conducted after the
Chancellor's Budget in March found that:
- 77% opposed the suspension of Sunday trading
laws for eight Sundays during the Olympic Games this summer. Just
12% said they were in favour of suspension.
- 48% said they come under pressure from their
employer to work Sundays.
- 71% said 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. A Gfk/NOP survey carried out in 2010 found
that 89% of the public were opposed to any relaxation of the Sunday
3. Usdaw (the Union of Shop, Distributive and
Allied Workers) is the UK's fourth biggest and fastest growing
trade union with over 415,000 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.