Government rethink on longer Sunday trading welcomed by Usdaw

Shopworkers trade union Usdaw has welcomed reports that the government will not be pressing ahead with plans to deregulate Sunday trading hours having listened to the arguments.

The news comes as Usdaw titled government plans for Sunday trading deregulation as a “slap in the face” for key workers and calls out the government failing to provide a “proper strategy” to help the retail industry.

This move to deregulate Sunday trading hours would come across as an opportunistic use of the coronavirus crisis and a slap in the face for each and every worker in retail

The union said its members were already under “huge pressures” due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Usdaw said it continues to call for an industrial strategy for retail, which was “struggling” before the coronavirus emergency and a tripartite recovery plan involving government, retailers and the union.

Paddy Lillis, Usdaw general secretary, said: “We appreciate the desire to help the retail sector, but the proposal to undo a long-held and workable compromise on Sunday trading was misguided and overwhelmingly rejected by shopworkers. We welcome reports that the government has rejected the proposal to make shopworkers work longer on Sundays.

“What the retail sector needs now is a tripartite approach of unions, employers and the government sitting down talking about what a retail recovery plan will look like. We have long called for an industrial strategy for retail to help a sector that was already struggling before the coronavirus emergency.”

He added: “The government needs to level the playing field on taxation between online and the high street, as well as enable councils to breathe new life into town centres and make them community hubs.

“The Sunday Trading Act is a great compromise that has worked well for over 25 years and gives everyone a little bit of what they want. Retailers can trade, customers can shop, staff can work; whilst Sunday remains a special day, different to other days, and shopworkers can spend some time with their family.”

He concluded: “It is good news that a divisive deregulation plan has been put to one side and we can now focus on pulling together to tackle the crisis on our high streets and help save our shops and the jobs of the retail workers who have served their communities tirelessly throughout coronavirus.”

The news comes as 92% of retail staff in England have opposed large shops opening for more than six hours on a Sunday, as the government considers deregulating Sunday trading.

According to a survey by shopworkers trade union Usdaw, 66% of the 11,000 retail staff said they feel they are pressured to work on Sundays, with 51% wanting fewer hours on Sundays and only 3% wanting more.

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