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The creeping influence of Sunday trading

15 April 2009


Name & Address Supplied

Sir, — I share the distress of the members of Aston Churches Working Together who have complained to the Premier League about the scheduling of a football match between Aston Villa and Everton on Easter Sunday (News, 9 April). It shows, as they point out in their letter, “disdain for the religious traditions of this country”.

Sadly, it is part of a growing trend to see Sunday as just a normal working day and Easter Sunday as no different from any other Sunday. The Sunday Trading Act gave protection to shop workers, who have a right to opt out of Sunday working, but in reality many find it difficult to exercise that right. There are many other workers who are not covered by the Act, but who are directly affected by the popularity of Sunday shopping.

Library workers are one such group. I have worked in a town-centre library for 20 years. Public libraries never opened on Sundays until Sunday trading took off in the mid-1990s, but many now do, having felt pressure to follow the trend and responding to customer demands for a Sunday service. My own library has opened on Sundays since 2002. Initially, this was staffed by weekend-only staff, newly appointed staff who were contracted to work on Sundays, and volunteers from existing employees.

Now the management has indicated that it intends to impose Sunday working on all employees on the grounds that this would be “fairer”. I believe that it is nothing of the kind, and that it puts Chris­tians at a disadvantage in relation to other employees, and therefore discriminates against them. I intend to resist having Sunday working imposed on me for that reason.

I would urge readers of the Church Times to think twice about shopping, visiting libraries, or using other non-essential services on a Sunday. What they may not realise is that the people who are providing that service may not be doing so willingly, but may be doing so because the alternative would be to lose their job.

Let’s continue to resist the growing secularisation of our country, and fight to keep every Sunday special, and Easter Sunday most special of all.

Name & Address Supplied

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