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Over 90% of Belfast shopworkers oppose longer Sunday trading - Usdaw proposes an industrial strategy for retail

Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw has responded to Belfast City Council’s consultation on 'Sundays in the City' with an emphatic ‘no’ to longer Sunday trading hours. The union calls on the City Council to engage in an industrial strategy for the retail sector that involves local and national government, retailers and all key stakeholders working together.

In gathering evidence to respond to this consultation, Usdaw’s survey of retail workers found that:

  • 92% thought that shops should not open longer on Sundays.
  • Over two-thirds said that they have already come under pressure to work on Sundays.
  • 61% said the main impact on them and their family from working Sunday was less time with family and friends. 

Usdaw’s full consultation response: www.usdaw.org.uk/BelfastSundayTrading2020

Usdaw’s industrial strategy for retail: www.usdaw.org.uk/retailstrategy

Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “Usdaw is fully committed to working with Belfast City Council and others to support and improve the retail experience at the weekend and for tourists. However,our members remain opposed to extending Sunday trading hours. 

“Allowing large stores to open for longer hours on Sundays would have a negative impact on retail workers, their families and our communities. Longer Sunday trading would take a heavy toll on staff who would come under even more pressure to work, when they would rather be spending time with family and engaging in community, sports, and leisure activities or attending church.  

“There would also be a detrimental impact on smaller retailers who can already open longer hours on Sundays.  These traders rely on the boost in trade they get on Sunday morning, with St George's Market being a prime example.  Even supporters of extended Sunday opening hours have not been able to show it will lead to economic benefits or job creation. Opening shops for longer does not mean people have more money to spend. We all want to see a strong and diverse retail sector, but that means striking the right balance.

“We urge City Councillors to listen to the majority of shopworkers and retailers who do not want extended Sunday trading.” 

Notes for editors:

Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with over 400,000 members. Membership has increased by more than one-third over the last couple of decades. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.

Retail is the largest sector of employment in Northern Ireland with 136,000 staff – an average of 7,555 retail workers in each Northern Ireland constituency, comprising 15.4% of all employment.  Usdaw has agreements with some of the biggest retailers in Northern Ireland and Belfast, with members in Tesco, Sainsbury's/Argos, Co-op, Primark, Poundland and Asda.

Usdaw’s 2020 survey of shopworkers found that:

  • 91.69% of respondents thought that shops should not open longer on Sundays.
  • 82.54% of respondents currently work at least some Sundays whilst over a quarter work every Sunday.
  • Over two-thirds of respondents (68%) said that they have already come under pressure to work on Sundays.
  • 41% of respondents have some form of caring responsibilities, either for children or sick or elderly relatives.
  • 61.49% said the main impact on them and their family from working Sunday was less time with family/friends.