MPs should vote against the suspension of the Sunday trading laws during the Olympic Games, according to the shopworkers’ union.
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) wants MPs to block the move in parliament because a significant majority of retailers and shopworkers are against extending the hours shops in England and Wales are open.
Opening hours would be extended for eight Sundays from July 22 if MPs vote in favour of the suspension.
But Usdaw says the government is attempting to force through the Sunday Trading (London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games) Bill by denying its own MPs a free vote on the issue. The union said just five hours of debate had taken place on the matter.
Usdaw general secretary John Hannett said: “Usdaw members want MPs to put family, sport and the Olympics first tomorrow (Monday) by voting against this ill-conceived and rushed piece of legislation. Its only cheerleaders are government and corporate interests who want to see a permanent deregulation of Sunday trading.
“The vast majority of shopworkers don’t want to work extra hours on a Sunday and they quite rightly blame their increasingly difficult struggle to maintain a semblance of normal family life on the twin demands for more flexibility and unsocial working hours.
“These demands also reduce the opportunity of workers and their children to participate in organised sports and leisure activities.”
Hannett said the idea of the success of the Olympics being dependent on large shops in provincial locations such as Lincoln and Lancaster opening for 168 hours a week rather than 150 was insulting to both London and the Games.
A spokesman for the Business Department said: “The Olympics present a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to showcase London and the whole of the United Kingdom. By temporarily suspending Sunday trading laws we will enhance the visitor experience and provide a real boost to the economy.
“This Bill is not a test case for a future permanent relaxation of the Sunday trading rules and will only last for the duration of the Games. The suspension will allow more flexibility over the Olympics period, for shoppers, retailers and workers alike.
“Retail workers will keep all their legal protections, such as the right to opt-out of Sunday working, but many will want to work extra or different hours.
“We expect employers and employees to discuss the opportunities created and come to mutually beneficial solutions.”
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