The UK government’s plan to give county councils powers to allow supermarkets to stay open all day on Sundays has been critised by the Revd Dr R.Alun Evans, president of the Union of Welsh Independent churches.
“The present closing on a Sunday evening is the only time millions of retail staff can be sure of having time for themselves and their families,” said Dr Evans. “Allowing 24/7 shopping will put an end to that.”
“This measure is wrong on so many levels. It erases the last trace of Sunday as a ‘special day’, is an attack on family life and workers’ rights and could be a death blow to small corner shops – many of them family businesses – who are allowed to open at present. Further, allowing individual councils to decide on granting the extra hours may lead to inconsistency, with people driving across county borders to shop on a Sunday evening.
“The UK government promises measures to protect staff who don’t want to work the longer Sunday hours, but I fear that employers will put great pressure on them to do so. This is why 91% of the shop workers’ union USDAW are against longer Sunday trading. We agree with them that this a totally unnecessary measure and supect that the government is bowing to pressure from big retail companies, rather than public demand.”
“Back in 2012, when the Sunday opening hours were relaxed for the London Olympic games, we warned that this could be the thin end of the wedge – and, sadly, we were right,” said Dr Evans.