The GMB union has lashed out at government plans to introduce all-day trading on Sundays in the biggest reform of opening hours for 20 years.
In today’s summer Budget, Chancellor George Osborne unveiled plans that would allow larger stores (over 3,000sq ft) to serve customers for more than six consecutive hours on Sundays. It is thought that the plans could be put in place as soon as next year, though holidays such as Easter and Christmas will not be affected.
The plans have been driven by a belief that it would boost the economy. According to The Times, the relaxation of trading laws around the 2012 London Olympics brought a sales surge of 3.2% in September. The Treasury also believes that extending Sunday shopping by two hours in London would create 3,000 jobs, with extra income of £2m a year.
Some believe London will be disadvantaged if trading hours are not relaxed as other major cities such as Paris drop their restrictions, while New York never had any.
However, the GMB is against the move, arguing that “there is no compelling evidence to support changes to 1994 Sunday trading laws”. It called on the government to bring in legal safeguards if the Chancellor unveils these plans later today and said that retail workers must be able to plan their work around their family and caring commitments.
Bob Crosby, lead GMB organiser, said: “GMB has not seen any compelling evidence to support the need for change to the 1994 Sunday Trading laws.
“If changes are pushed through, there need to be legal safeguards to give a genuine choice for people working in retail, so that they can plan their work around their family and caring commitments.
“We have to face the fact that some employers will take advantage of the weak bargaining position of their staff and force them to work on Sunday.”
He also warned that any changes to Sunday trading laws will impact on workers in the supply chain.