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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:-  1 May 2006

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SMARTER WORKING CAMPAIGN GETS TUC SUPPORT

WORK Wise UK now has the backing of the TUC for its 3-year initiative to encourage the widespread adoption of smarter working practices, such as flexible working, mobile working, remote working and working from home.  The TUC is supporting the campaign as it recognises the potential to change for the better the way we work in this country.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:- ''In an economy that is close to full employment, in many sectors workers are shifting their focus to quality of life issues. In practice this means gaining more flexibility over working time, eliminating excessive working hours and cutting down on commuting time.''

The TUC sees a huge scope for many workers to have more choice over their hours and working patterns through smarter working practices. Working smarter will increase efficiency and enable work to be completed more quickly, lessening the need for long hours.

Brendan Barber continued:- “More than 10 million people regularly work overtime, although only half of them are rewarded with extra pay or time off in lieu.”

Apart from increased productivity, other benefits of smarter working include reduced transport congestion and pollution, improved health, assisting disadvantaged groups, and the harmonisation of work and family commitments.

“Travel is an important element,” said Brendan Barber. “The working week figures do not take into account travel time, which in some areas of the country is very significant.  Simply reducing that element, or enabling the staggering of the rush hour, will have a fundamental impact on people’s lives both in terms of time and stress.”

Work Wise UK will start with Work Wise Week, Wednesday 3 May to Tuesday 9 May, intentionally not the traditional working week. It will begin with a major summit at the QEII Conference Centre in London where 400 influential delegates from government, unions and business will debate how to deliver a smarter working Britain.

Phil Flaxton, chief executive of the IT Forum Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation which is behind the campaign, said:- “Having the support of the TUC is a significant step for Work Wise UK. It will be heavily involved in the development of the programme, and in the implementation over the three years of the campaign.”

Further information about Work Wise UK can be found on the website (www.workwiseuk.org). 

Save Our Sundays campaign

RETAIL union Usdaw is launching a national Save Our Sundays campaign to stop large stores opening for longer than 6 hours on a Sunday at its annual conference in Blackpool.  The conference kicks off at the Winter Gardens on Sunday April 30 until Wednesday May 3 and more than 800 delegates will be making clear their total opposition to any further relaxation of Sunday trading hours which they say will have a devastating impact on their family life.

"Our annual conference usually produces some robust debates but with 95% of our members opposed to any changes in Sunday shopping hours because they want to spend quality time with the families then there should be some fireworks.  We're particularly pleased Trade Minister Gerry Sutcliffe has agreed to join us in Blackpool on Sunday afternoon and he has promised to listen closely to the delegates to find out exactly why there is such widespread opposition from shopworkers to longer shopping hours on a Sunday.  We're launching the national Save Our Sundays campaign in Blackpool because we want to reach as many of Britain's shoppers as we can after discovering in an independent survey that 64% of them don't want longer hours. So shoppers don't want longer hours, the major retailers are divided on the issue and shopworkers want to spend some quality time with their families on a Sunday so we'll be making sure that MPs get that message loud and clear." says Usdaw general secretary John Hannett.

78% support longer shopping hours on Sunday

69% OF people in the North England have no objections to the deregulation of Sunday shopping hours, and even those who would not take advantage of longer shopping hours appreciate that it would make life easier for many people. 

That's the message from a national survey which reinforces the theory that life would be so much easier if only the shops were open longer on a Sunday.  Choice is the key to consumers who are increasingly demanding the flexibility to shop when they like rather than being dictated to by out-of-date opening hours. 

The Populus survey reveals that 78% of the population has no objections to changes in the law which would allow shops to open for longer on a Sunday.  Commissioned by Deregulate, which is looking for the government to grant longer opening hours on a Sunday, the survey shows that 53% of those questioned said that their life would be made easier if larger shops were able to open earlier on a Sunday morning or stay open later in the day on Sunday. 

The Trafford Centre's, Director of Operations, Gordon McKinnon, is in full support of the deregulation of Sunday Trading hours:- "In the 11 years since the introduction of the Sunday Trading Act, Sunday has become the second busiest day of the week, in fact, hour for hour it is by far the busiest.  Every Sunday morning there are thousands of people here at The Trafford Centre waiting for the shops to open, and every Sunday evening we are asking thousands to leave because the shops have to close."

Furthermore, 65% of 18-24 years old believe that longer shopping hours would give them more flexibility to plan their time and get the things done in life that they want to.  The survey results come at a time when the DTI is carrying out its own analysis to assess whether current restrictions on larger stores are still relevant.  In its own comprehensive report to the DTI Deregulate, offers recommendations on the simplification of Sunday trading hours stipulating that regulation is unnecessary. 

Commenting on the research, David Ramsden, chairman of Deregulate, who was the Executive Vice Chairman of the Shopping Hours Reform Council whose proposals became the 1994 Sunday Trading Act, said:- "There is clearly demand for longer opening hours and by removing regulation stores can make their own decisions and react to consumer demand. Simply this poll shows that over two thirds of the population does not oppose the relaxation of the current restrictions'' 

In its submission to the DTI, Deregulate states that lifting restrictions on Sunday shopping will lead to the creation of thousands of jobs, give consumers more choice, support urban regeneration, boost the economy and abolish a completely outdated law.

Chief executive of Women for Sunday Shopping, an organisation representing working women for the deregulation of Sunday shopping hours, Karen Parry, said:- 'This demonstrate that the majority of people in the UK are in favour of flexible shopping times on Sundays. As a Mother who runs her own business, it would be extremely beneficial for me to be able to shop later on a Sunday. It would mean that shopping would no longer interfere with our social and extra curricular activities on Saturdays or in the week and I'd be able to spend more time with my daughter.  My life would be so much easier with more hours to shop on a Sunday, as I'm sure it would for any family with young children,'. 

David states that current restrictions are no longer relevant:- "Sunday trading law, which permits stores with more than 280 square metres of sales floor to open for more than six hours on a Sunday, have not changed in more than a decade. Since then consumer expectations have increased, society has become more multicultural and more people are working outside the standard 9am-5pm weekday hours.  The whole concept of shopping has changed since the Act was put in place. Shopping is now a family activity and any extension to opening hours will be dictated by consumer demand."

In response to the DTI's consultation document, the report proposes all shops in England and Wales can open without restriction on Sundays as is already the case in Scotland.

"Retailers need to be free to serve their customers at times the customers want to shop," David added.

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