92% of shopworkers oppose longer Sunday working hours, says Usdaw

Some 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.

The news comes as the government is considering trading laws limiting supermarket Sunday opening times to six hours, in an attempt to boost the economy.

However, the union condemned plans to let supermarkets open for 24 hours a day on Sundays as “a slap in the face” for key workers as its members were already under “huge pressures” due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Paddy Lillis, Usdaw general secretary said reports that the government is “yet again” looking at deregulating Sunday trading were met with “dismay and disbelief” by its members who are on the frontline of delivering essential services during the coronavirus crisis.

He said: “The government claims it will help the country out of recession, but that is wrong, misguided and a slap in the face for key workers. 

“Shops can already open for 150 hours a week, adding a few more hours will not make a difference, but could be very damaging to shopworkers lives, our communities and the retail sector.”

He added: “This move to deregulate Sunday trading hours appears an opportunistic use of the coronavirus crisis. I would hope that the government would instead spend its time exploring how we can ensure that these low paid key workers can get the level of pay and job security they deserve.

“Longer Sunday working would have a big impact on shopworkers, which is why over 90% of our members remain opposed. Usdaw’s survey shows that nearly 80% already have to work on Sundays and two-thirds are under pressure to work on Sundays when they don’t want to.”

Lillis concluded: “We appreciate a desire to help the retail sector, but this attempt to undo a long-held and workable compromise on Sunday trading is misguided. Usdaw members do not want to see longer Sunday trading hours, especially when shopworkers are under huge pressure because of the crisis. 

“Shopworkers need a break on Sundays, not longer opening hours. We urge the government to reject extending trading hours and to focus on supporting the retail sector.”

The news comes as Usdaw urged customers to respect staff and employers to ensure safety in stores, as shops reopened.

The news comes as Usdaw released statistics revealing one in six shop workers have suffered abuse on every shift, during the coronavirus pandemic.

The statistics revealed 62% of the 4,928 shopworkers surveyed have experienced verbal abuse, with almost a third being threatened by a customer. Usdaw also revealed 4% of employees were assaulted, which amounts to more than 3,500 every day when averaged across all retail workers.

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