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Workers to protest over longer Sunday trading proposals

The protest will be held outside Belfast City Hall on Friday morning. Credit: UTV

Shop workers are to hold a protest outside Belfast City Hall on Friday morning to show opposition to proposals to allow longer trading hours on Sundays.

The workers fear that any extension to the current trading hours would have a detrimental effect on their family life as they would come under additional pressure to work on Sundays.

The Usdaw union says its members came out 6:1 against in response to the city council’s consultation on the issue.

Deputy General Secretary Paddy Lillis said: “The current Sunday trading arrangements are a fair compromise, which has worked well for 20 years, and gives everyone a little bit of what they want.

“Retailers can trade, customers can shop, staff can work - whilst Sunday remains a special day, different to other days, and shop workers can spend some time with their family.”

Many shop workers, particularly parents, tell us how important Sunday is to them and their family.

Often it is the one day of the week when everyone can sit down together for a meal, with many saying they needed the time on Sunday to help their children prepare for the school week.

– Paddy Lillis, Usdaw

Mr Lillis added: “We remain absolutely opposed to extended Sunday trading.

“Crucially, even the supporters of extended Sunday opening hours have not been able to show it will lead to economic benefits or job creation.

“Longer opening hours do not mean people have more money to spend, so large stores have higher opening costs, but similar takings.”

According to Usdaw, 81% of respondents to its ballot on the issue currently work at least some Sundays, while over a quarter work every Sunday.

It added that 85% of respondents thought that shops should not open longer on Sundays and almost two thirds said that they already come under pressure to work on Sundays.

The protest will be held ahead of Usdaw representatives giving evidence to the Strategic Policy & Resources Committee at Belfast City Hall.

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