Emma lends support to Save Our Sundays campaign

May 20, 2014

USDAW Sunday TradingEmma met with representatives from the shop workers’ union Usdaw to oppose plans to scrap Sunday trading laws.  The proposed change would allow large stores to remain open for longer periods on Sundays, meaning small local retailers will suffer.  Shop workers also say that they would come under greater pressure to work additional hours, cutting into family and community life.

A recent survey shows that the changes are opposed by both shop workers and consumers.  Altogether more than three quarters of people oppose the change.

At the moment shops more than 3,000 square feet are allowed to open for six hours on Sundays, between the hours of 10am and 6pm.  This allows shoppers to buy the goods they need, and workers to take on extra hours if they wish – often at an increased rate of pay.  At the same time, the law protects smaller retailers and allows Sundays to remain a special day to be spent with the family, to attend church or simply to rest.

Extending opening hours would see staff face increasing pressure to work – more than half of staff surveyed already feel pressured into working on Sundays.  And without the special status of Sunday trading, employees would no longer be likely to receive premium pay for working unsociable hours. This could have a real impact on low-paid families who rely on that premium to make ends meet.

Extended Sunday trading was trialled for an eight week period during the 2012 Olympics. More than half of workers reported being pressured into working extra hours, while only 5 per cent of stores reported an increase in customer numbers on those days.  More than a third reported that their stores were ‘almost empty’.

Emma said:

“As a former shop worker I know that Sundays are often the only day those working in retail get to spend time with their families and relax.  I remember how much pressure was placed on myself and other workers to work Sundays even within the current trading hours, these changes will only serve to increase that pressure.

“The current laws already strike a balance between the needs of shoppers and the needs of small retail owners and staff, and even consumers don’t think this proposal would make a positive difference.  That is why I am pleased to back the Save Our Sundays campaign.”

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