Home > Updates > Resist Sunday Trading De-regulation

Resist Sunday Trading De-regulation

Amongst the many attacks on workers including in the Tory government’s emergency budget is one that will anger many retail workers, further de-regulation of Sunday trading legislation. At present, shops above 3,000 sq ft can only open for six hours on a Sunday.

There is huge opposition to these proposals amongst retail workers, for many Sundays are the only day they know they’ll have an evening off or a later start, especially given the further ‘flexibility’ of contracts supermarkets are now demanding.

In 2012, when the government temporarily suspended Sunday trading laws for the Olympics, Usdaw surveyed over 20,000 members with 77% declaring their opposition to de-regulation and only 12% supporting it. Moreover, under existing laws which give workers an opt-out from Sunday working, many workers are pressured into doing so.

Chancellor George Osborne and others, point to a £20.3bn boost they predict this would give the economy over the next 20 years, although during the Olympic de-regulation retail sales actually fell 0.4% year-on-year. They also point to opening a level playing field for physical retailers with online shops. Yet many of the major stores affected have online outlets now and the major effect of extending supermarket openings on Sundays, would be the further cannibalisation of smaller & independent retailers.

Osborne proposes to devolve the powers over opening hours to elected mayors and local authorities, is clearly a move to attempt to shield the Tories from blame for this, but it is also can be seen as a step towards regional pay and conditions which the government has wished to promote for some time. Additionally if Sunday becomes a normal working day, there could be attempts to remove what remains of Sunday premium payments.

Given this, it is welcome to see Usdaw General Secretary, John Hannett’s comments that the union “…will vigorously campaign against such a proposal…” However, fine words need to be turned into action. As well as encouraging campaigning in stores and high streets against this proposal, Usdaw must call a national demonstration when legislation is debated in parliament, mobilising members and supporters across the country as part of a campaign to build for strike action if necessary.

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