No to extending Sunday trading in retail – retail workers deserve a break

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Usdaw Activist
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During the current crisis, huge pressures have been put on the food supply and workers in that sector, particularly in supermarkets. Key workers in retail have been part of the front line, having to adopt new working practices including social distancing to keep shoppers and themselves safe.

Ever since these measures have been brought in to keep retail workers safe, including limiting some opening times to allow for restocking safely, then there has been a campaign amongst some MPs, local councils, the media and retail bosses to try to suspend or ultimately abolish Sunday trading regulations.

Richard Walker, managing director of Iceland was reported by ITV as saying “"We have spoken to Government about this. My hands are still tied with these archaic Sunday trading laws. This is a moment of national crisis and we need our shops open".

A number of local councils including Belfast, Conwy, Denbighshire, Wakefield and Wrexham have decided to stop enforcing Sunday trading regulations locally. Belfast City Council had previously unsuccessfully push through extended Sunday trading against mass opposition

40 MPs have written to Business Secretary Alok Sharma calling for relaxation of Sunday trading legislation nationally, just 4 years after David Cameron last attempted to do this which was defeated in the House of Commons.

Usdaw, the main retail & distribution union in the UK, has continuously campaigned against Sunday trading. In it’s most recent survey of shopworkers on this issue, 91.69% of respondents opposed extending Sunday trading.

Deregulating or relaxing Sunday trading legislation will only put more pressure on hard pressed supermarket workers, and cause difficulties for those with childcare or caring arrangements. Sundays are usually the only days supermarket workers know they can guarantee to be home to have an evening meal with their families.

Other means should be found for ensuring key workers are able to buy food under the current ‘lockdown’ conditions including key worker slots at differing times in the day, which should be drawn up in consultation between their respective trade unions.

Retail workers are key workers too, they should not be forced to work longer – say no to extending Sunday trading!