Belfast Retail Staff Oppose Sunday Trading Extension

Over 90% of Belfast's retail staff have rejected the idea of longer Sunday trading hours.

Some 92% delivered an empathic 'no' to shop workers' trade union Usdaw when consulted on the matter as part of Belfast City Council's 'Sundays in the City' strategy.

The union is urging the council to engage in an industrial strategy for the retail sector that involves local and national government, retailers and all key stakeholders working together.

Usdaw found that over two-thirds (68%) of staff reported to already having been put under pressure to work on Sundays. Some 61% cited family and private life as the main impact of them having to work Sundays.

The union represents over 400,000 members in the UK.

Northern Ireland's retail sector employs around 136,000 staff members, making it the largest area of employment in the region.

Usdaw General Secretary Paddy Lillis said: "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."

Over three-quarters of retail staff currently work some Sundays, while just over a quarter are on shift every weekend.

In addition, some 41% of staff have some form of caring responsibility, either for sick children or sick or elderly relatives.

Mr Willis said extended Sunday trading would have a further impact on smaller retailers who can already trade for longer hours on those days.

"These traders rely on the boost in trade they get on Sunday morning, with St George's Market being a prime example," he added. "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."


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