'It will affect everyone in retail throughout the country' - petition opposing longer Sunday opening hours at supermarkets is launched

PUBLISHED: 11:49 25 February 2016 | UPDATED: 11:49 25 February 2016

Co-op Littleport

Co-op Littleport

Archant

A union representative has taken the fight to stop supermarkets staying open longer on Sundays to colleagues and customers in East Cambridgeshire.

The rep, a member of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw) is trying to win support to prove “it is a bad for everyone”.

A survey of its 10,000 members nationally has voted overwhelmingly to keep 10am opening and 4pm closures on a Sunday.

“For many members of staff Sunday evening is the only time to spend time with their family and loved ones,” he said.

The petition has been launched at the Co-op in Wisbech Road, Littleport where the union official works.

A Co-operative spokesman said: “It’s nothing to do with the store - it’s not going through the Co-op at the moment.

“We have no comment as a business”

The union official agreed but said he had been asked to request colleagues, friends, family members and the public to sign the petition to show local MPs “that our community is against the proposal of extending trading hours on a Sundays for large stores – for example Tesco, Ely”.

He fears that if the larger stores do embrace Government proposals, then smaller stores would inevitably follow suit.

“If Tesco, Ely is allowed to open for longer on Sundays, I have been told that my store will follow suit and open earlier and close at 10pm. I am hoping that people agree it is a bad for everyone and sign my petition and that people feel the same as I do and to keep Sunday special.”

The Usdaw survey found that 91 per cent didn’t want large stores to open more than six hours on Sundays, 35 per cent of those in large stores wanted to work less hours on Sundays, 58 per cent said they were already under pressure to work more on Sundays and only six per cent said they wanted to work more.

He added: “Yes, jobs will be created, but if those larger stores are going to open up earlier and for longer every Sunday, smaller stores might be forced to close down.”

*An amendment included in the Enterprise Bill this month will hand local authorities the power to extend Sunday opening times from the current six hours between 10am–6pm for stores over 280sqm.

Business Minister, Anna Soubry, said: “Extending Sunday shopping hours has the potential to help businesses and high streets better compete as our shopping habits change.”

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