Belfast Telegraph

Shopworkers protest against Belfast Sunday trading extension plan

Shopworkers held at protest at Belfast City Hall on Friday morning ahead of a meeting in which councillor's will debate extending Sunday trading hours.

Members of the trade union Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) gathered to protest against extending the hours.

Belfast City Council's Strategic Policy and Resources Committee considered designating Belfast a "holiday resort", which would allow large shops to extend their trading hours on 18 Sundays each year.

The matter was deferred for a week to allow parties to gather more information.

Usdaw and Retail NI have already sent a joint letter to council stating the extension would be "detrimental to retail workers, their families, independent retailers and the wider community".

The proposals were previously rejected by the SDLP, Sinn Fein and the DUP.

Leader of the protest Mike Aylward, Usdaw Divisional officer said the majority of people were against extending trading hours.

"Belfast City Council ran this consultation again, only a year after the last one, because they want to see whether attitudes have changed towards their proposal. The answer is yes, attitudes have changed with more than double the responses and a majority opposed to extended Sunday trading.

"We do not believe longer Sunday trading hours is the answer and we have made it clear that we were more than willing to work alongside Belfast City Council and other interested parties to explore options that would deliver a real and meaningful boost to the weekend economy of Belfast. That is a reasonable and measured response.

"Our members remain absolutely opposed to extended Sunday trading. The current Sunday trading arrangements are a fair compromise, which has worked well for over 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 shopworkers can spend some time with their family."

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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