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Sunday shop hours: will they ask the workers?

24 August 2012


From the Revd Geoffrey Squire SSC
Sir, - There is nothing wrong with the Government's or any other body's "reflecting" on or debating shop opening hours ( News, 17 August), or any other matter of national interest. But there appears to be something seriously wrong in this debate, in that minimal reference is made to the workers involved.

One may consider that a good case could be made for doctors' surgeries, schools, civic centres, and county halls to open for far longer hours on every day of the week with some form of rota system, but high in the debate would be the thoughts of the doctors, teachers, and civil servants who would be required to change their work pattern severely with no guarantee of enhanced financial reward.

UK shop workers are among the most low-paid and exploited in the land. The intending employees of some large retailers often have to declare that they will be available for work on any day at any time with no guarantee of enhanced payment for Saturday, Sunday, bank-holiday, or evening work. The work patterns of some are changed at very short notice to cover for absenteeism. Even the Queen's Jubilee holiday was exploited for commercial gain.

To say that X per cent of people would like the shops to be open longer is of no value whatever. The same result would be obtained if the campaign was for longer opening hours for doctors' surgeries or civic centres, etc. Christians should stand alongside the exploited and poorer members of society.

I once worked from junior assistant up to management level with a large multiple retailer, and then moved on to become managing director of an independent retail company.
Little Cross, Goodleigh, Barnstaple, Devon EX32 7NR


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