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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 December 2005, 09:49 GMT
Stores told to open on Boxing Day
Bluewater
Bluewater is telling stores they must open on Boxing Day
Shop workers at one of Europe's biggest retail centres are angry that they are being made to work on Boxing Day.

Workers at Bluewater told BBC South East Today they were upset at having one day off at Christmas, but feared for their jobs if they were named.

The Kent shopping centre said stores would be in breach of contract if they did not open on Boxing Day, because the agreement to open was made in May.

But a spokesman said there would be no penalties if the shops remained closed.

A spokeswoman for Bluewater said the decision to ask stores to open had been taken because of customer demand.

She said the centre understood the concerns of shop workers, but on 26 December last year, 75,000 shoppers went to the mall.

We are on the side of the consumer. We would prefer them to stay open
Bluewater spokeswoman

Paul Clark, of retail union Usdaw, said it was a poor commercial decision to force people to work on Boxing Day.

"If you compel people to work on these holidays they are not going to be very highly motivated on what is a very, very busy day in store," he said.

"It is better to get people who are volunteers - compulsion should always be a last option."

Bluewater falls in the parish of the Rev Kenneth Clark, rector of Stone Parish Church.

"I feel sorry for the shop workers if they don't have time for rest and to be with their families," he said.

Larger stores

"They work long hours already, especially in the season leading up to Christmas - it can be quite nightmarish in the shops there."

But the Marks & Spencer and John Lewis branches at Bluewater are to stay closed until 27 December.

Bluewater said the larger stores had taken their decisions to stay closed at a national, corporate level.

"We are on the side of the consumer. We would prefer them to stay open," the Bluewater spokeswoman said.




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