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Usdaw vehemently opposed to any further deregulation of Sunday trading laws

Date: 18 March 2012 Commenting on George Osborne’s announcement this morning that he intends to introduce emergency legislation to force through an eight week suspension of Sunday trading laws this summer, John Hannett, General Secretary of the shopworkers Union Usdaw said:

“Our members are vehemently opposed to any further deregulation of Sunday trading hours and the Government’s own consultation on this just last year showed that there is no widespread support from either retailers or the general public for change.”

“Deregulation would do little to stimulate growth or create jobs, but would have a very detrimental impact on the lives of millions of shopworkers and their families. Any change would fly totally in the face of the Government’s commitment to be family-friendly.”

“To suggest that the current legislation, which allows shops to open for 150 hours a week, means Britain is ‘closed for business’ is frankly ridiculous. With ministerial aides apparently briefing the announcement out as a prelude to permanent change, and with the total number of tourists actually expected to be down this summer, there is understandable suspicion that the Government is trying to use the London Olympics as cover for its wider deregulation agenda.”

“I’m encouraged that the Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has agreed to our request for an urgent meeting on the issue, which will take place this Tuesday, but we have made it clear to the Government that we are extremely disappointed that an announcement of such importance to our members and millions of other people has been made in this manner and without any prior consultation.”

“Shopworkers are entitled to expect some respect from the Government and for their views to be heard and taken into account before any decisions of this importance are made.”

“Usdaw will also meeting on Tuesday with the Leader of the Opposition, Ed Miliband to discuss our concerns.”

Notes for Editors:

1. A survey of over 10,000 Usdaw members completed in April last year found that:

  • 91% opposed large shops being able to open all hours on a Sunday
  • 95% thought the current ban on large shops opening on Christmas Day and Easter Sunday should continue.
  • 47% 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 Trading laws.

3. Usdaw (the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK’s fourth biggest and fastest growing trade union with over 410,000 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.

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