Monday, 9 June 2014

Rene Liron on Sunday Opening

As Sunday Trading comes back on the agenda, with Alan Maclean trying for complete liberalisation of the existing laws, it is interesting to read the General Synod Report by Harold Poole.

What is especially interesting, for me, is the way that Harold Poole chose to approach the subject, in considering the social grounds against Sunday trading. He decided to approach Rene Liron. Back then, Rene Liron was at the helm of the local Transport and General Workers Union; in fact he was at that post for 27 years.

After his death, Rene Liron would receive glowing testimonials from States members and the Jersey Evening Post, as "the working man's champion", so it is perhaps worth noting in this context that in the 2009, the same Jersey Evening Post made a comment about workers pay that "All this goes back to the 1970's & 1980's when Rene Liron and friends managed to negotiate unreal pay rises for public employees."

So back in the 1980s, Rene was often seen as a divisive figure, a tough negotiator for the workers, but rather less loved by the more establishment politicians and the JEP.

Now it is often thought that the Church of England in Jersey is very "establishment", and certainly some of the events over the last year have done little to counter that impression. So it is all the more startling to find that back in 1985, Harold Poole decided that the correct thing to do before looking at voting was to engage with Rene Liron, and see what he had to say on behalf of the workers.

I'll be interested to see if Nick Corbel has anything to say.

For more thoughts on Sunday trading, see

General Synod Report, July 1985: Sunday Opening
By Harold Poole, Jersey Member

The proposals of the British Government to "liberalise" the Sunday opening of shops required less strain on our intellects, and Synod rose up almost "to a man" in expressing indignation and opposition. This was not wholly on religious grounds although there was much said on the subject, but mostly, perhaps, on social grounds and concern for people.

I had a conference in Jersey with Mr Rene Liron before the General Synod, in order to obtain a "Trade Union" briefing without which I felt inadequately informed for the debate, and I found that his concern with the potential exploitation and hardship of working people -both in shops and in supporting services - was synonymous with much that was said in the subsequent debate.

Unfortunately a Trade Union opinion as such was not expressed, much to my regret. I tried to be called to speak but failed and so Rene Liron will not be quoted in the General Synod "Hansard"; but the voting in opposition to the proposal was almost unanimous (367 to 1). I hope we shall take note in Jersey, where the issue is also a live one.

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