Shopworkers union Usdaw has condemned government plans to let supermarkets open for 24 hours a day on Sundays as “a slap in the face” for key workers.
The news comes as the government is considering trading laws limiting supermarket Sunday opening times to six hours, in an attempt to boost the economy.
The union said its members were already under “huge pressures” due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis said: “Our members in retail are working long hours, in difficult circumstances and under a great deal of pressure, they need a break. It isn’t too much to ask for a shorter day on Sundays.
“Deregulating trading hours will put more pressure on shopworkers to work longer and cause further problems with finding childcare.”
Lillis has also written to business secretary Alok Sharma condemning the government for not responding to the union’s concerns about Sunday trading deregulation and failing to provide a proper strategy to help the retail industry.
The letter said: “This move to deregulate Sunday trading hours would come across as an opportunistic use of the coronavirus crisis and a slap in the face for each and every worker in retail and the food supply chain.
“I would hope that the government would instead spend its time exploring how we can ensure that these low paid key workers can get the level of pay and job security they deserve.”
The news comes as the union revealed one in six shop workers have suffered abuse on every shift, during the coronavirus pandemic.
The statistics revealed 62% of the 4,928 shopworkers surveyed have experienced verbal abuse, with almost a third being threatened by a customer. Usdaw also revealed 4% of employees were assaulted, which amounts to more than 3,500 every day when averaged across all retail workers.