The Government is being urged not to lift restrictions on Sunday trading hours amid the COVID-19 pandemic in order to protect workers.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma is pushing for the rules to be relaxed, but the plan to increase shop opening times on Sundays is being opposed by the shop workers’ union Usdaw.
The union said it did “appreciate the sentiment behind the call” but does “not believe that longer trading hours on a Sunday are part of the answer”.
Paddy Lillis, Usdaw’s General Secretary, warned that “blanket deregulation of Sunday trading” was unlikely to help key workers but would “increase pressure” on those working in the supply chain.
He said: “Opening for longer on a Sunday would simply make the busy times earlier and the quieter times longer, it makes no sense.
“With more people currently working from home and shopping only permitted for essential supplies, there is no reason why weekends should be any busier than normal.”
Last month, Belfast City Council agreed to relax Sunday trading restrictions during the pandemic, but faced pressure to ensure they did not become long-term changes.
Belfast city councillors have repeatedly rejected attempts to liberalise Sunday trading in recent years – a stance backed by shop workers.
A survey for Usdaw in January found 92 per cent of its NI members opposed extending Sunday trading hours. More than two-thirds said they had already been pressured to work on a Sunday.