The economic case is limited, but liberals should support Sunday trading anyway

 

As the years of my youth sweep by me, increasingly I am drawn towards the comfort blanket of nostalgia, but when it comes to public policy making, such vanities must be cast aside and answers framed by the chill of the contemporary, and the pragmatic must instead rule the roost.

It is this increase reluctance to fight the dying of the light and instead embrace maturity that has caused me to pause, and embrace the idea of Sunday trading.

For personal and professional reasons I tend to view all policy decisions though the prism of their economic efficacy , rather than the madrigal of sentimentality that sometimes frames Liberal Democrat policy making.

But despite there being negligible economic advantage to the UK from a relaxation of the Sunday trading laws, I believe the Liberal approach is to favour a change in the law.

The economic benefits will be muted because there is a long term trend amongst grocery shoppers to move away from large edge of town stores, and more towards the convenience stores, which can already open on Sundays until late into the evening in many cases. This shift in grocery shopping habits  is part of the reason the profitability of the large supermarkets has come under pressure, and it is noteworthy that the day after the Chancellor announced proposals to change the trading laws, the only one of the listed supermarkets to see a meaningful bounce in its share price was Morrison’s, and that is the company with, at present, the smallest proportion of its profits derived from convenience stores, and so benefits most from the changes.

As for the argument that Sunday opening somehow eats into family time, well, grocery shopping isn’t a place where people go for easy pleasure; I would imagine those that shop Sunday will do it instead of another day. And surely the essence of Liberalism is that people should be given freedom of choice because they know what best to do with it? So freedom to shop on Sunday doesn’t mean they choose to act against their own interests and do it? If the party believe that increasing the choice to do something automatically leads to more people choosing to do it, then surely our policy on drug decriminalisation would have to change, because increasing the choice for people would lead to an increase in people choosing to do it, right?

No of course not, so never mind the economics, and let’s all take the Liberal path and support Sunday trading, despite the easy nostalgia for Sundays past.

 

* David Thorpe was the Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for East Ham in the 2015 General Election

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61 Comments

  • The shop staff? What about their choice? You are only looking from the other side.

  • I disagree and I’m on the centre-right of the party.

    It’s time to draw a line and protect the leisure time of ordinary workers. I’m happy if the party works with USDAW to work out how supermarket workers can gain contiguous days off.

    My most local supermarket is open 96 hours a week – how much more time does anyone need to fit in essential shopping?

  • If this isn’t too off-topic: I see that as part of the so-called Greek bailout, the Greeks will be forced to adopt Sunday trading. Whether they like it or not. So much for Greek democracy, for a sovereign nation’s right to decide how they should govern their citizens’ lives!

    Well, I’m pro-Europe, and unlike Corbyn, I can’t see any case for withdrawal. But Europe’s dictatorial treatment of Greece disgusts me. Surely Lib Dems cannot give unqualified support to the EU when it behaves in this way?

  • @James – 72 more hours per week would do it!

    I imagine at the current rate of progress you won’t need to worry about protecting workers, supermarkets don’t seem to need them so much any more. Self-serve tills, centralised security, etc, you’ve got to wonder how long they’ll keep employing staff other than a duty manager. Past concern for workers, I find it hard to care about Sunday opening hours; I’m not a Christian but I quite like having a national day of rest on a Sunday, on the other hand, as the author says people should be free to arrange their life/business however they see fit.

  • Jacqlyn Taylor 14th Aug '15 - 1:23pm

    I’m in some agreement with James, however, I think there is scope for some useful change for both economic and freedom of choice reasons. This opening of 6 hours between 10 and 6pm causes confusion as some stores choose 10-4, some 11-5 and some change between these depending on summer/winter. I think just letting them open the full 8 hours would remove confusion and allow people the choice of most of the daytime.

    Also, in town centres, if the larger stores can’t open, the smaller ones don’t bother and where I live we have a farmers’ market on 2nd Sunday of month which is there at 9am but none of the shops are open and so if you buy things from the market for dinner but happen to need a few accompanying bits that you need to go in the Tesco or M&S for you can’t until 11am – I think this is a good example of where devolving the decision to a local level would make more sense.

  • Graham Martin-Royle 14th Aug '15 - 2:02pm

    If stores want to open they should be allowed to. They won’t if there’s no economic case to do so.

  • Sarah Olney 14th Aug '15 - 3:20pm

    As far as shop staff are concerned, their existing employment rights can’t be altered without their consent. (I know, I know, there are ways……). As a general rule, most will be contracted to work x number of hours per week and will be on a roster – and a large majority of them will already be working Sundays. For them , the change will simply mean that they can use up a larger proportion of their hours on a Sunday, which will actually be beneficial – the costs of travelling to work are the same whether you’re working for six hours or ten.

    For working families, longer hours working on a Sunday aren’t necessarily a bad thing. If one parent works full time Monday to Friday, the other can work Saturday and/or Sunday to bring in a bit extra , and the family as a whole don’t need to incur any childcare costs. Longer opening hours means more opportunity to work and earn money.

    Obviously, that’s not ideal – everyone would like families to be able to spend more time together – but individual families should be able to make a free choice about whether their own time is best spent together or out earning money, depending on their own circumstances. Imagine a family which had a large amount of debt to pay off – for them, in the short term, working as many extra hours as they can at the weekends and in the evenings is a step towards being debt-free leading to a better life for all of them.

    As for protecting leisure time – retail workers get the same time off as anyone, but in the week instead of at the weekend. When I was a bookseller in the late 90s, I used to enjoy my weekday off – getting a doctors appointment was a doddle, there was never a queue at the bank, the supermarket was an oasis of calm. It was the best time to go to museums or galleries or (ironically) shops.

  • I agree that workers do need protecting from any change in Sunday trading laws, however you also cannot completely ignore consumers and businesses who want to see change. I would like to see that shops could not force any existing or future employees to work Sundays as part of their normal working week and that they must pay at least twice the minimum wage to workers on Sundays. This could open up more part-time opportunities for people whose schedules make Sunday working convenient.

    As for whether or not there is an economic advantage – I know this is entirely anecdotal but have you ever been to an IKEA or an ASDA on Sunday? I also agree with Jacqlyn Taylor – different shops opening at different times is confusing. I live in Cardiff and if you go into the centre on a Sunday before 11am it looks like the walking dead, people wombling around confused trying to find somewhere to shop.

    I completely disagree with the idea that Sunday trading will harm “family time”, this is just emotional nostalgic nonsense based on the hetero-normative idea that everyone will at some point have 2.4 children and a sit down to a lovely traditional roast every Sunday. Modern life for a lot of people is simply not like that. If you don’t want to shop on Sundays, then don’t, but don’t tell other people they can’t.

  • Sarah Olney 14th Aug '15 - 4:05pm

    I don’t see why shops should have to pay twice the NMW for people to work on Sundays – there would very quickly not be any economic case at all for Sunday opening. Agree that existing employees shouldn’t be forced to work Sundays if it’s not currently in their contract, but any future employment contract should be open to negotiation within the boundaries of the law as it stands at the time.

  • @Sarah Olney

    Good point, I guess it is something where there should be room for negotiation between employee/employer. I just don’t want to see people working for NMW on Sundays.

  • david thorpe 14th Aug '15 - 4:44pm

    shop staff? many are on the zero hiours contracts people have objected to for years0this gives them more hours if they want them-its all about choice…they can choose benefits or another job… they dont have to work there

  • david thorpe 14th Aug '15 - 4:45pm

    I see loads of people working on Sunday for NMW-in the convenience stores of their employers-so now they move to the big stores of their employers-I fail to see the problem…

  • david thorpe 14th Aug '15 - 4:46pm

    protecting workers from what-the opportunity to do mroe hours? loads of supermarket staff work sunday now-and work until late at night in them-in the convenience stores-you are trying to ‘protecxt’ them from that which they already do!

  • When Norman Mailer ran for Mayor of New York in 1969 he came up with the idea of “Sweet Sunday” – one Sunday a month all traffic, including planes and trains, would be banned; people would have to relate to their environment, and each other, in ways that are not normally possible. That is a radical and imaginative idea: allowing capitalism to colonise a few of the remaining hours closed to it in the name of freedom isn’t.

  • david thorpe 14th Aug '15 - 10:23pm

    tony, capitalism isnt closed to anyone on a sunday……..online shopping happens 24 hours a day 365 days a year…..as for the issue of workers…..as the big shops wont want to open…there wont be any extra hours work for anyone..

  • Max Wilkinson 15th Aug '15 - 10:38am

    The world no longer stops on a Sunday. To suggest it’s a national day of rest is incorrect. To suggest there’s an issue with workers’ rights in general is also a red herring because lots of people already work on Sundays. As long as there’s a proper process undertaken for the staff whose hours may change, I think we should welcome this move. We can’t go on being a party that claims to be open minded, then fighting to maintain a small c conservative status quo. This sort of debate cuts to the core of our identity.

  • David Evershed 15th Aug '15 - 11:17am

    Only illiberal people would want to stop businesses opening on any particular day.

    Being Liberal means not interfering with the lives of individuals and their businesses unless absolutely necessary.

    We should beware Labour members joining the Lib Dems and trying to impose their ideas for a nannying state.

  • David Evershed. I broadly agree but with caveats about workers being exploited.

    However I must take issue with “the nanny state” comment. Sometimes we need nannying. I am thinking of seat belts being compulsory, the ban on smoking in public places and hopefully soon, with children in cars. The opponents of these often threw the ‘ nanny state’ accusation around until it became law and now no-one protests about it with any credibility.

    In the same way I think there can be real harm to shop workers from hours being extended. I once went shopping on Boxing Day to our Mall and I will never forget how exhausted the shop workers looked – they’d had to come in at 6am! . Rather than restricting hours, I do believe on Sunday and Bank holidays etc shops should not open til midday to allow shop workers a good night sleep.

  • @david evershead

    We should also beware of trampling on some people’s rights when applying ideas to Sunday Trading. If you open on Sunday, you have to have people to run the shops and some of them will not want to work on Sunday for various reasons. JS Mill was very strong on only allowing people freedom when it does not affect the freedom of others.

    I do however agree with your point about Labour joiners – if they ever come. I wouldn’t want anyone from Leeds Labour Party, whose authoritarian tendencies are way beyond the pail. Case by case and check if they are really Liberals.

  • Can I declare a vested interest?
    I live 200 yards (as the shopper staggers loaded with carrier bags) from a major shopping centre.

    Whilst it is true that Sunday is no longer a “day of rest” it is still a bit different. It might be worth considering why and if that’s on balance a welcome thing.

    I would be the last person to suggest that a small and relatively insignificant religious group such as The Church of England should impose anything on the rest of the population.
    However, there is more to life than shopping, and selling stuff, and economics, and opening for business.

    Some of these business and shopping obsessives ought to try getting a life.

    Take it easy, relax, go for a walk that does not involve giving your hard earned money away to some corporation that is rich enough already.
    Sit in the garden. Breath some fresh air.
    Step off that economic treadmill and behave like a human being instead of a unit of consumption.
    It is quite possible to live a decent life without spending every hour of the day, 7 days a week working, shopping and rushing around like a rat in a race.

  • “Being Liberal means not interfering with the lives of individuals and their businesses unless absolutely necessary.”

    So, completely open borders? Smoking, hawking and spitting allowed anywhere in public (as in past times)? Bear-baiting and cock-fighting? No restraints on gambling, drugs, prostitution, or on banks and payday lenders? No libel laws?

    Who decides what is “absolutely necessary”?

    Rational liberals might well wish to oppose or limit restrictions in some of the cases I have mentioned above, but should recognise that freedom is not the only issue that matters. It needs to be weighed against other considerations (e.g. fairness, morality, practicality, public safety), and there are no simple answers. Different well-meaning people will have different views. It is a fallacy to believe that there are over-arching fundamentalist liberal principles which can dictate what is right and what is wrong. In a (seemingly) paradoxical way, it is also an illiberal belief.

  • Tony Fitzpatrick 15th Aug '15 - 1:37pm

    I’ve been trying to think of things that would stop me being a Lib Dem: the sentiment, as well as the meat, of this article, can go on my list.

  • Jayne Mansfield 15th Aug '15 - 2:01pm

    Whilst soever children are off school at weekends, I and and their parents would like the weekend off please so that we can spend time with my grandchildren other family members and friends.

    We would prefer to play in the park, visit a museum or just sit and gaze into space together, rather than shop. Selfish I know, but we don’t want family life eaten into any more than it already is. Maybe there are people who will be expected to serve in shops on Sundays who feel the same way.

  • David Evans 15th Aug '15 - 4:36pm

    David Allen – Absolutely right. That is why it says “we seek to balance the fundamental freedoms” in the Preamble to the Constitution. We all have different views on something or other. We are a party because we accept that difference and are stronger because we openly debate, discuss and ultimately decide together. Ultimately each of us wins a lot and loses a few.

    Ultimately it was the unwillingness by those at the top to accept the decision of the party on Tuition Fees that led to our demise from 2010 onwards. Rebuilding that consensus, of a bottom up approach to decision making rather than top down, will be key to our recovery.

  • George Kendall 15th Aug '15 - 4:57pm

    @David Evans @David Allen
    Nice to agree with you guys.
    The “we seek to balance the fundamental freedoms” part of the preamble to the constitution is my favourite part.

    I think some people see the work Liberal in our party’s name, and assume we are the party of individual freedom. If you look at our constitution we are not. We are a party that recognises that there is a balance to be struck between individual freedom and community. Both are good, but they need to be balanced.

  • David Evans 15th Aug '15 - 5:35pm

    Three ultimatelys! Clearly it must be my word for the day. 🙂

  • suzanne fletcher 15th Aug '15 - 6:30pm

    strongly disagree with relaxation of Sunday trading laws. Not because I am a christian going to church on a sunday, I wouldn’t impose my beleifs on anyone. But it is the only day many families have the chance to be together to do whatever they want. I know there are still many who have to work, on various shift patterns and emergency services, but the chances of Sunday being free are higher. Not just families of course, people want to see friends or just have time out.
    it is a myth that workers are protected, I worked for many years at the CAB, and there are many ways that subtle pressure is put on at best, and rules are broken. Ending the ability for most people to take a case to an employment tribunal to enforce employment laws is one of the wickednesses of the last government and in some ways prpares the way for this.
    don’t forget it is more than someone behind the till. It is the cleaners, parking attendants, police and a whole host of others that have to be around or around more.

  • Stephen Hesketh 15th Aug '15 - 6:46pm

    George Kendall 15th Aug ’15 – 4:57pm

    Key point well made!!!

  • Richard Underhill 15th Aug '15 - 8:00pm

    We support diversity.

  • Max Wilkinson 15th Aug '15 - 8:33pm

    Tony,

    Why?

    Jayne,

    There are already lots of people who work on weekends. Would you like to stop them working on weekends, just in case they want to spend time in the park? What if somebody wants to work on a Sunday? Would you deny them? What about people who don’t share your values on weekends and family?

  • Max Wilkinson 15th Aug '15 - 8:39pm

    Suzanne,

    I think you’re using the erosion of workers rights in one area to argue against a largely unrelated liberal reform. I think the reality of this reform is a much less profound impact on people’s working lives than many people think.

  • When I was growing up, my sister who was a nurse and my brother, a factory worker both volunteered for long shifts and to work on public holidays, in my sisters case Christmas Day, New Years Day, Easter Day etc. because we didn’t celebrate Christmas etc so for us it was a chance to earn some more money and use the time off in lieu at a more convenient time. We were poor and it was a Godsend to have the extra hours. Now, of course with a family of my own, I dislike it intensely that nieces and nephews have to travel early to work on Boxing Day breaking up what should be a lovely family time.

  • Jayne Mansfield 15th Aug '15 - 10:52pm

    @ Max,
    I would argue that they should be were paid extremely well for ‘unsocial hours.

  • Jayne Mansfield 15th Aug '15 - 10:55pm

    @ Max,
    Sorry another jumbled sentence but you get my meaning.

  • suzanne fletcher 15th Aug '15 - 11:16pm

    Max, I was “busting the myth” that people don’t have to work Sundays if they don’t want. thinking more of the retail and “entertainment” businesses at the lower end of pay scales. Based on facts. Public services are much better protected (never saw them – well hardly ever-at CAB on employment related issues).

  • Jayne Mansfield 15th Aug '15 - 11:37pm

    @ Phyllis,
    Government says Health workers should not be paid extra for week end shift (The Independent January 2015)

    According to friends, nurses have for many years received extra remuneration for ‘unsocial hours’ meaning that sthey receive extra pay if they work nights, weekends weekends , bank holidays etc., when they get an hourly rate plus one third extra for night work, and double the hourly rate of pay on Sundays and bank holidays. This meant that many nurses chose to work unsocial hours to suit their particular needs.

    What concerns me is that if every day comes to be seen as a ‘normal ‘ working day, those who cannot spend time with their family at weekends and holiday times, either for financial reasons or because of the needs of the service they must provide, will not be compensated for this. It will be just another expectation placed upon them and restrict their choices.

    I actually think that an economy should work for people not the other way round.

  • Jayne yes my sister used to get pay at double time and also time off in lieu for working Christmas Day etc. I agree with you that people should be compensated very well for working when the rest of us are still lolling around enjoying the effects of the mulled wine.

  • I often think it would be convenient to go to the supermarket on a Sunday after 16.00 but I have to make sure I get to the convenience store before 22.00. My initial reaction to extending the Sunday trading laws was a “No Way!” (My concern was the freedom of shop workers not to be forced to work all day on a Sunday.) It would be interesting to know if there are any shop workers who have contracts that mean they don’t have to work Sunday, when their store opens on a Sunday.

    However Sarah Olney makes a valid point that if stores were open 8 hours on a Sunday then working all day on Sunday would be like any other day and would mean you didn’t have to work on another day if you were a full-time employee. Of course shop full time working hours might already take into account working on a Sunday every other week and these employees might already get their two full days off work every week. It would be interesting to know what effect having longer opening hours on Sundays would have on the workers of non super-market shops that open on Sundays for the same hours as their neighbouring supermarket.

    So maybe I would support supermarkets being open from 9.30 to 17.30 on Sundays!

  • Max Wilkinson 16th Aug '15 - 10:03am

    I think the phrase “when I was growing up” probably sums up this debate.

    However old you are, from 30 or 80, the world that existed when you were growing up no longer exists. I’m 31 and I remember pubs being closed on Sunday afternoons and the local shops closing on a Tuesday afternoons. We can’t turn back the clock. Nor should we try.

    Who is to say there aren’t a group of people out there who like the flexibility of weekend or evening shifts? It would be wrong to assume everyone lives in the nuclear family and wants to spend Sunday with relatives. The world just isn’t like that anymore, whether posters here like it or not.

  • Jayne Mansfield 16th Aug '15 - 10:43am

    @ Max Wilkinson.
    Ah, I remember when beer was a penny a pint.

    Seriously Max, do you think that all change is beneficial? Some is, this country is a far more liberal and outward looking, and I applaud that. There is still much more to do and one must be ever vigilant that there is no change in the opposite direction.

    However, if you read carefully, and try to suppress the ageist assumptions, you will see that far from trying to turn back the clock, it is those who might expect workers to forgo a social and family life on behalf of their employers who might be turning back the clock- what starts off as choice can quickly turn into a burden of expectation and the loss of choice.
    Experience, or at least the experience of others seems to be of no interest to you.

  • Max Wilkinson 16th Aug '15 - 11:25am

    Jayne,

    My point about 30 or 80 was nothing to do with age. It was that whether we’re referring to 20 years ago or 70 years ago, the world will inevitably have moved on. That’s why I put the context of my own memories from childhood. You accusation that I’m in some way ageist is wide of the mark.

    You’ve also missed my general point that lots of people already work on a Sunday. These reforms won’t really change much from the perspective of employees. If you were arguing that all places of employment should cease operations on a Sunday, then I would concede that you have a coherent position, though I would disagree with it. Is that what you’re arguing?

  • Max Wilkinson 16th Aug ’15 – 10:03am
    “…However old you are, from 30 or 80, the world that existed when you were growing up no longer exists. ”

    Hmmmm. When I was growing up the Prime Minister was an Old Etonian, running the country with a Conservative majority in The Commons even though most people had voted for other parties, the government in Moscow was considered a threat to Europe so we had to have nuclear submarines to deter them, in the USA black people were treated badly by the police, in Africa people starved or had no proper education.

    That is of course all so very different from today.

  • “As far as shop staff are concerned, their existing employment rights can’t be altered without their consent.”

    Many here are overlooking the obvious: existing employment rights only apply to current employees; those entering the work force ie. future generations of workers, will get different contracts and hence employment rights.

    There are two issues that people are muddying here:

    Firstly, the long standing enlightened Christian/English tradition that established a working week with one day of rest (and worship) that is the basis for the modern working week and weekend.
    Secondly, the need for the country as a whole to observe the same routine to create a norm and have everyone in ‘lock step’.

    So the questions about Sunday trading are whether or not we really want to reserve space for the nation to ‘rest’/worship and/or get involved in more civic oriented social activities (which effectively is one of the purposes of church services). Of if we really want to live our lives in a society that is constantly on the go. And what safeguards are we going to put in place to ensure that individuals still benefit from a 5 day working week and aren’t forced back into a 7 day working week, something we haven’t seen (or found necessary) for hundreds of years.

  • Max Wilkinson 16th Aug ’15 – 10:03am…….. I think the phrase “when I was growing up” probably sums up this debate……….However old you are, from 30 or 80, the world that existed when you were growing up no longer exists. I’m 31 and I remember pubs being closed on Sunday afternoons and the local shops closing on a Tuesday afternoons. We can’t turn back the clock. Nor should we try…………….Who is to say there aren’t a group of people out there who like the flexibility of weekend or evening shifts? It would be wrong to assume everyone lives in the nuclear family and wants to spend Sunday with relatives. The world just isn’t like that anymore, whether posters here like it or not…………….

    “Who is to say there aren’t a group of people out there who like the flexibility of weekend or evening shifts”…… and that’s how it’s sold……No need to worry it’s all voluntary; until it’s not

    BTW…shops closed Wednesday afternoons

  • Max Wilkinson 16th Aug '15 - 1:14pm

    John Tilley,

    Very good. Did you have 24-hour news, iPads and the internet?

    expats,

    People will still be free not to take a job that requires Sunday working. Just the same as they are currently free to not take a job that requires Sunday working.

    Anybody arguing against this is clearly not grasping what is blatantly obvious: people already work on Sundays and preventing the proposed deregulation will not mean people don’t have to work on Sundays.

  • Max Wilkinson 16th Aug ’15 – 1:14pm …………expats, People will still be free not to take a job that requires Sunday working. Just the same as they are currently free to not take a job that requires Sunday working……

    Yes! Another reference to all these jobs that are magically available….One wonders why everyone in the country is not ensconced in one of these well, paid, rewarding jobs? Oh, I forgot, its because those unemployed ( “Skivers”)choose to be so because of the luxurious lifestyles offered by the benefit system!

  • Richard Underhill 16th Aug '15 - 2:08pm

    David Frost, one of the the founders of London Weekend Television, was on LTV on Friday nights, Saturday and Sundays.
    He used to commute on Concorde to and from New York, which apparently made an eight day week, which i still do not understand.

  • Max Wilkinson 16th Aug '15 - 2:46pm

    expats

    You’ve made quite a leap of logic.

  • Max Wilkinson 16th Aug ’15 – 2:46pm …..expats, You’ve made quite a leap of logic.

    No more than the answer, “If you don’t like the job, get another!

  • Douglas McLellan 16th Aug '15 - 4:39pm

    Sunday trading is not a problem in Scotland. In fact, we have 24hr shopping in many of our big supermarkets.

    I do wonder why its retail staff that need protected and not others who work on a Sunday. Cinemas are open but I see little in the way of seeking to protect their staff. Football matches and other sporting events happen on Sundays. Where is the campaign to protect the staff at them?

    Of course, with the internet, home shopping and ever increasing methods of delivery/collection it is inevitable that these retail staff will lose their jobs as the laws banning convenience for shoppers on a Sunday will drive up more online sales. Still, better no job than working a Sunday eh?

  • Jayne Mansfield 16th Aug '15 - 6:26pm

    @ Max Wilkinson,
    No that is not what I am arguing. I can make a distinction between essential and non- essential work. I can also make a distinction between some people working on Sundays, and Sundays being a normal working day thus rendering the need for extra payment for inconvenience necessary.

    It is my understanding that when the Sunday Trading laws were introduced, working on Sundays was to be voluntary. I believe that there is little hard data, but USDAW offer anecdotal evidence that in some instances this is not the case.

    I don’t see how extending shopping hours will increase the amount of money spent, we all have a finite amount to spend, it will just extend the number of hours over which it is spent. Overall, the losers will, it seem to me, to be the workers in large companies and small ‘open all hours’ shops that are staffed by family members who have a vested interest in the profits generated.

    Once we give over the entire week to large scale commercialisation without full knowledge of the social costs, I believe that we may well lose something important but I would be prepared accept the evidence for change. The people who are trying to impose their values on others are those who want to push through the changes without this hard data, surely?

  • Jayne Mansfield 16th Aug '15 - 6:27pm

    ‘ extra payments for inconvenience unnecessary.

  • It has been said that “existing employment rights can’t be altered without the consent of the employee”. This is not really true. When Sunday trading was introduced the act set out to protect the rights of existing employees, if future changes are made these protections might not be included. Employers often change the conditions of employment. There is a procedure to follow but if the employee does not agree to the terms the employer can impose the terms and sack them if they don’t comply. I suppose there is always the option for the employer to make the employee redundant as that particular role with those conditions of employment no longer exists.

    It has been said that “no one forces a person to take a job that includes Sunday working”. I wonder if those applying sanctions recognise this or if an unemployed person was offered such a job and they turned it down because they didn’t fancy working on a Sunday they would have their Jobseekers Allowance stopped.

  • Jayne Mansfield 17th Aug '15 - 7:22am

    @ David Thorpe,
    According to the KPMG/IPSOS retail think tank, convenience shopping was driven by the retailer not the consumer. ( KPMG . The Future of the grocery sector in the UK)

    I have always thought it rather naive to believe that our consumer choices are not to a large extent manufactured and shaped by commercial enterprises. Working in isolated, impoverished areas abroad has simply deepened that conviction.

    I am extremely hard headed on some matters, which is why I personally would not buy shares in the current retail grocery market. Extending opening hours would make me less not more inclined to do so for very hard headed reasons unrelated to nostalgia. As far as I am concerned the consumer has given clearer indications of how they would like the retail grocery business to change.

  • @Michael BG
    “It has been said that ‘existing employment rights can’t be altered without the consent of the employee’. This is not really true.”

    This is certainly true. My employer unilaterally rewrote all the staff contracts a few years ago (including making us work more hours for no extra pay) and it was made pretty clear, both by the employer and the union, that our only choice was to sign the new contract or walk. They have just started the process again. Those who think their employment contract has any sort of permanency attached are deluding themselves.

  • John Tilley 17th Aug '15 - 8:54am

    Max Wilkinson 16th Aug ’15 – 1:14pm
    “….Did you have 24-hour news?”

    Yes, we did. It came printed on paper. Indeed my first payment for any sort of work was delivering what were called “newspapers” to the homes of people. Newspaper boys (there were some girls but not many) got up before dawn 360 days of the year and some of us the did the same thing again in the evening. In Manchester where I lived in the 1950s there was also the sporting pink. Not to mention the specialist weeklies and monthly publications.

    It was a form a seven day a week child labour — my guess is that you would approve ?
    They had stopped putting chlldren up chimneys seven days a week but perhaps you consider a nanny-state intrusion?

    Newspapers were a cheap and highly effective form of communication which did not require electricity or dependency on a server or batteries. Once you had read the news you could also light your fire with them, line the budgie’s cage or wrap chips in them. (Not necessarily in that order).

    It was a time when people could read the news, and could consider well written and considered political discussion 24 hours a day seven days a week. Newspapers regularly reported parliamentary debates and it was not unusual for people to read newspapers to others in the same family and then discuss issues if the day. It was a social activity in which people who had the ability to engage in informed conversation. Was it as good as staring at your shoes because the only communication you understand involves tapping an electronic device? On balance I think it was.

    This was a far superior form of news distribution than iPads and the internet, which have resulted in a dumbing down and atomisation. The ill-informed mob mentality of Twitter obsessives is what substitutes for news today. It is not so much 24 hour news as 24 hour lynch mob.

    Have you ever tried wrapping chips in an iPad?

  • John Tilley 17th Aug ’15 – 8:54am …………….Have you ever tried wrapping chips in an iPad?……..

    Or hanging it in the ‘smallest room’….

  • Ed Shepherd 18th Aug '15 - 7:34am

    Debates like this would be a lot more enlightening if everyone who contributed stated where their income comes from.

  • Jayne Mansfield 18th Aug '15 - 5:56pm

    @ Ed Shepherd,
    Why?

  • Ed Shepherd 19th Aug '15 - 8:19am

    Because I would find it enlightening to know how many of the commentators who are saying that shopworkers should put up with worsening work conditions are people who work in jobs that feature regular fixed hours, are in “professions” that are effectively the posh equivalent of closed-shops or have unions that are recognised by their employers, have jobs with proper career structures and get high salaries. There is now a big gap in society between people in such relatively privileged jobs and the increasing numbers working long hours on “flexible” contracts for low wages with no representation, such as shopworkers.

  • Ed Shepherd 19th Aug ’15 – 8:19am….Because I would find it enlightening to know how many of the commentators who are saying that shopworkers should put up with worsening work conditions are people who work in jobs that feature regular fixed hours, are in “professions” that are effectively the posh equivalent of closed-shops or have unions that are recognised by their employers, have jobs with proper career structures and get high salaries. There is now a big gap in society between people in such relatively privileged jobs and the increasing numbers working long hours on “flexible” contracts for low wages with no representation, such as shopworkers…….

    I’m retired (and have been since 2000)… I note that the posters who are of the “If you don’t like your job, move to another” are often against unions when they take industrial action….Over many years I had much experience, both positive and negative), with major unions…. On the whole I am pro-union; viewing them in the same way as I view ‘Human Right’s legislation’ ( sometimes abused but the alternative is far, far worse)….As for, “you can’t change terms of employment without worker consent”??????? I wonder where they have been for the last 30 years…

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