By Bill Heaney
Jackie Baillie has backed retail trade union Usdaw’s call to give shopworkers a day off on New Year’s Day.
The Dumbarton constituency MSP has continually urged the Scottish Government to enforce the closure of large stores on the 1st of January in a bid to give shopworkers a well-earned rest.
The festive period is one of the busiest times of the year for shopworkers and they are under immense pressure.
The Christmas Day and New Year’s Day Trading (Scotland) Act 2007 stopped large stores from opening on Christmas Day and gave the Scottish Government powers to introduce a similar ban on New Year’s Day but this has never been enacted.
Jackie Baillie, right, said: “Time and time again, I have urged the Scottish Government to use the powers at its disposal to grant shopworkers this vital day off on New Year’s Day – and time and time again they have refused to do so. I completely back the campaign by Usdaw to allow members to have the day off.
“Shopworkers have been a lifeline for us over the past three years and with the festive period being such a busy, stressful time for them, working conditions for those in retail are challenging.
“The least the SNP Government should be doing is closing large stores on New Year’s Day.”
Tracy Gilbert – Usdaw Regional Secretary for Scotland said: “Our members are deeply disappointed with the attitude of the Scottish Government. Warm words and sympathy from the First Minister mean little when they refuse to enact powers given to them to stop the opening of large stores on New Year’s Day.
“Usdaw members’ relentless campaigning pushed the Scottish Government into holding a consultation on this issue last year. Despite the strong case made by retail workers for a proper break at New Year, they refused to act.
“They are clearly not listening to the 98 percent of Scottish shopworkers who want stores to close. In fact all the SNP in Government have done is stand back while New Year’s Day trading has grown, forcing more staff into work and away from their families on 1 January.
“Retail staff work incredibly hard all year round, but it is particularly busy and stressful throughout December. So they deserve to be able to spend time with family and friends. Hogmanay and New Year is a special holiday in Scotland, but this is not reflected in the experience of many retail workers.
“We urge retailers to ensure that, if they do trade on 1 January, stores are staffed with genuine volunteers only. Our message to the public is, if you really feel the need to shop on New Year’s Day, please respect shopworkers and understand they would most likely prefer to be spending time having a well-earned festive break.”