Friday, 27 April 2012

I will vote against relaxation of Sunday Trading laws

I will vote against Government proposals to relax Sunday Trading laws across the country during the Olympic & Paralympic Games this summer.

MPs will be debating the Sunday Trading (Olympic & Paralympic Games) Bill in parliament on Monday, 30th April.

The Bill was announced in the March Budget without prior consultation with the public, trade unions and with retailers.

Usdaw, the Manchester-based shopworkers’ union, has called on the government to drop plans to suspend Sunday trading laws during the Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer, warning it was an attempt to deregulate opening hours ‘by the back door’.

Usdaw members say it would have a detrimental impact on the family life of its members. The government has offered assurances that the proposed suspension was not a prelude to total deregulation. However, Usdaw contends that any suspension of Sunday trading hours is the thin end of the wedge and an attempt by the coalition to deregulate Sunday trading by the back door.

The government plans to suspend Sunday trading laws for eight Sundays during the Games this summer, but a poll by the union found 77% of its members oppose the move.

Usdaw is not alone in opposing the Government’s plans, the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) which represents some 33,000 local shops across the country including local retailers like the Co-op, Spar and Nisa are opposed to the proposals and many large retailers are also against them because they understand that, for the vast majority of them, takings would remain the same but overheads would be pushed up, at a time when margins are already being severely squeezed.

In a letter to me, ACS state that, ‘proposals to liberalise Sunday Trading laws for the Olympics have not been consulted on and no impact assessment has been undertaken. Changing Sunday Trading laws for the Olympics will set a dangerous precedent for introducing long term reform’.

A recent poll (2010 gfk/NOP) for ACS showed that 89% of the public were opposed to the further liberalisation of Sunday Trading laws.

Despite the fact that shopworkers, the public and many businesses are opposed to the proposals, the Government is ploughing on regardless with this rushed legislation. Ministers are rushing through a Bill that has significant implications for workers and businesses across Wigan.

A survey of over 20,000 Usdaw members conducted after the Chancellor's Budget in March found that:

• 77% opposed the suspension of Sunday trading laws for eight Sundays during the Olympic Games this summer. Just 12% said they were in favour of suspension.
• 48% said they come under pressure from their employer to work Sundays.
• 71% said they would come under more pressure to work Sundays if shops were allowed to open for longer.

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