Ne’er Day campaign escalates as Usdaw makes the case for closing shops


Edinburgh’s Princes Street, where people go to shop on New Year’s Day.

By Democrat reporter

Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw has today published the results of an extensive survey of Scottish retail staff, who overwhelmingly back the closure of large shops on New Year’s Day, and is calling on all MSPs to support the motion tabled by Jackie Baillie MSP in the Scottish Parliament.

Usdaw’s survey of over 1,000 shopworkers in Scotland found that:

  • Three quarters feel they spend too little time with friends and family over New Year.
  • 72% have come under pressure to work on New Year’s Day or 2 January.
  • Four in ten don’t receive any premium pay for working on New Year’s Day.
  • 79% are not happy to work on New Year’s Day or 2 January.

The full survey results can be viewed at:

Stewart Forrest, Usdaw’s Scottish Divisional Officer, says: “This survey clearly demonstrates the strength feeling among our members. We have today written to all MSPs asking them to support Jackie Baillie’s motion calling for a decent break at New Year after the busy Christmas period.

“I have also written to the Scottish Retail Consortium urging them to reconsider their opposition to large stores closing on New Year’s Day. Usdaw does not accept that giving retail workers in large stores just one more day of guaranteed time off would have a negative impact on our high streets. 72% of our members who worked on New Year’s Day 2019 said that their store was either very quiet or fairly quiet.

“Usdaw is fully supportive of efforts to revitalise Scotland’s high streets. The livelihoods of our members depend on a thriving retail sector. That is why we are calling on the Government to implement an industrial strategy for retail and to take action on a whole range of issues, from business rates to parking charges and public transport, in order to breathe life back into the industry. We are seeking to work with the Scottish Retail Consortium, so we can tackle these issues together.”

Jackie Baillie MSP (Scottish Labour, Dumbarton) says: “Retail staff work incredibly hard all year round, and are often on their feet for long shifts. Christmas and New Year is a time which should be spent with family, and there are few days in the year when families are off at the same time. The results of Usdaw’s survey show that the overwhelming majority of respondents want to spend more time with their families during Christmas and New Year.

“I hope that all of my MSP colleagues will recognise that everyone deserves a day off for New Year and will support the motion that I have tabled in the Scottish Parliament.”

Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “We are very grateful to Jackie Baillie MSP for the support she is giving to our members and this campaign. New Year is a special holiday in Scotland, but this is not reflected in the experience of many retail workers. Under the Christmas Day and New Year’s Day Trading (Scotland) Act 2007, Scottish Ministers may, by statutory instrument, ban large shops from opening on New Year’s Day, subject to consultation.

“On behalf of Scotland’s retail workers, we are urging the Scottish Government to open that consultation and for MSPs to listen to shopworkers concerns about their work/life balance.”

Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK’s fifth largest and the fastest growing trade union with over 410,000 members. Membership has increased by more than one-third over the last couple of decades. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.

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