Usdaw welcomes Trade Minister's clear commitment
Usdaw has warmly welcomed Trade Minister Gerry Sutcliffe's clear
commitment to put any proposal to extend Sunday shopping hours to a
vote in Parliament. The Minister, speaking to delegates at
Usdaw's annual conference in Blackpool, said that rumours the
Government would use a regulatory reform order to make changes to
the existing six hour limit on large stores opening their doors on
Sundays were untrue.
"We're absolutely delighted that Gerry has made this
commitment because we believe that the arguments against extending
Sunday shopping hours are irresistible. Our members over whelmingly oppose
longer Sunday opening and if this issue is taken to a vote in
Parliament we're confident their voice will be heard and the
perfectly workable existing arrangements will continue, allowing
shoppers time to shop, retailers time to make money and shopworkers
some valuable time with their loved ones." said Usdaw general
secretary John Hannett.
A packed meeting launching Usdaw's Save Our Sundays campaign heard
supermarket worker Heather Morris - who is in remission from breast
cancer - make a passionate plea for shopworkers to have precious
time with their families.
"I have fond memories of my family Sundays and I want my
children to have these sort of precious memories," Heather
told the meeting. "Shops aren't an emergency service and there
is no such thing as an emergency pint of milk. Customers need to
remember that the shops trade for 6 hours but staff work for far at
least 8 hours and longer in many instances."
Usdaw members from stores across the UK are sending specially
commissioned Save Our Sundays postcards to their MPs to remind them
that 95% of Britain's 3.1 million retail workers are firmly opposed
to working longer on Sundays.
"Gerry heard from many of our members who oppose any extension
of Sunday shopping hours and I was very moved by the very personal
testimonies from workers from a variety of companies. I was heartened that Gerry came to hear from
our members and that their powerful comments about the need to have
quality time with their families will be fed back to the Government.
A commitment to putting this issue before Parliament is a massive
step forward for our vigorous campaign against this proposal. We've
already secured the support of 239 MPs from all parties who have
signed an Early Day Motion opposing more Sunday shopping hours.
We believe this support from across the political spectrum shows the
massive strength of feeling on the backbenches against extending
Sunday hours which will erode the time Usdaw members can spend with
their families on the only short day in the increasingly busy retail
week." said John
warmly welcomes Prime Minister's commitment
Usdaw has welcomed a clear commitment from Tony Blair to listen to
Usdaw's case against any further extension of Sunday shopping hours
for large stores. The Prime Minister was speaking to delegates
at the union's annual conference in Blackpool and he pledged to meet
with Usdaw General Secretary John Hannett to listen to the union's
case for keeping the present six hour limit which is backed by 95%
"I'm delighted the Prime Minister agreed to meet with me to
listen carefully to our strong, evidence based case against changing
the existing and perfectly workable arrangements," John
Hannett said. "We've done our homework finding 64% of
Britain's shoppers don't want any more shopping hours on Sundays and
our members have told us in the clearest possible terms that they
want one day in the busy retail week to spend some quality time with
their families. So I'll be taking that message to Number 10
and making the case very strongly on behalf of our members that 6
hours is enough. We're not expecting a blank cheque, but I'm
confident the Prime Minister will listen closely to what we have to
say as I believe we have a very strong case to retain an arrangement
that allows shoppers time to shop, retailers time to sell and
shopworkers time to get home to their families."
The Prime Minister asked delegates to look at the 'big picture'
and the achievements of this Government, like the introduction of
the national minimum wage, that have directly benefited most Usdaw
"It has been difficult, but nine days' headlines should not
obscure nine years of achievements," the Prime Minister told
delegates. "I want to thank Usdaw for sticking with Labour
which is something the Government should not forget because it is
the right way for colleagues and partners to behave."
Usdaw delegates gave the Prime Minister a standing ovation at the
end of his speech which set out the achievements of his Government
and a positive agenda for an historic 3rd term.
"This was the first time the Prime Minister has spoken to our
conference and I thought it was a confident speech looking back at
the very real achievements of this Government and looking forward to
yet more improvements to public services," said John Hannett.
"The Prime Minister took part in a question and answer session
with delegates and I was very impressed with the quality of the
questioning on a range of subjects, like pensions and the NHS, which
are the core issues concerning Usdaw members. It was
gratifying that all our members in the hall acted with great
maturity giving the Prime Minister a chance to articulate his vision
for a better Britain which is something we will continue to support
especially when the political going gets tough."