It is believed that more than one million workers will be affected by the extended Sunday opening hours and the GMB union has spoken out about the potential implications this could have in terms of harassment in the workplace.
The government has invited the GMB to a consultation to discuss pay and working hours over the Olympic period, but the union had planned to snub business minister Mark Prisk’s offer, describing the invite as a “sham” since the government has already made the decision to suspend the Sunday trading laws.
“There is no recognition of the disruption that extending opening hours will have on well over a million shop and distribution workers across the country,” Gary Smith, GMB national secretary for retail, told the Independent.
“We’re concerned that they will be bullied into working and where’s the fairness? Retailers will be making so much money and workers should share in that. We’re not even going to waste our time talking to Prisk.”
Particularly in London, the GMB wants “Olympic premium” pay for those required to work extended hours, and is calling for a system that ensures that longer hours are only worked on a voluntary basis.
Due to come into effect from July 22nd, the suspension of the Sunday trading laws will last over eight weekends to allow large retailers in England and Wales to trade for more than six hours.
A spokeswoman for the business department said: “The GMB has raised some valid concerns about the Sunday trading laws suspension, which is why government is holding discussions with the unions, retailers and employers’ groups before the second reading of the Bill.”