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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:-  8 May 2006

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Usdaw welcomes Trade Minister's clear commitment

RETAIL Union 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 Hannett.

Usdaw warmly welcomes Prime Minister's commitment

RETAIL union 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% of shopworkers.

"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 members.

"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."

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