Call for shops to close on New Year’s Day

The union says the survey clearly demonstrates the strength of feeling among its members.
The union says the survey clearly demonstrates the strength of feeling among its members.

The shopworkers’ trade union is urging all MSPs to back a motion calling for the closure of large shops in New Year’s Day.

A survey of Scottish retail staff by the union Usdaw shows overwhelming support for the closure of stores on January 1.

And the union is now calling on all MSPs to support the motion tabled by Jackie Baillie MSP in the Scottish Parliament seeking to ensure shop workers can enjoy some time off at New Year.

The survey of more than 1000 shop workers revealed:

• 99 per cent believed stores should close on New Year’s Day, with 87 per cent saying they should also close on January 2.

• Three quarters feel they spend too little time with friends and family over New Year.

• 72 per cent have come under pressure to work on New Year’s Day or January 2.

• Four in ten don’t receive any premium pay for working on New Year’s Day.

• 79 per cent are not happy to work on New Year’s Day or January 2.

Stewart Forrest, Usdaw’s Scottish divisional officer, said: “This survey clearly demonstrates the strength feeling among our members.

“We have 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.”

Mr Forrest stressed the union was fully supportive of efforts to revitalise our high streets as the livelihoods of its members depended on a thriving retail sector.

But he added: “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, as 72 per cent of our members who worked on New Year’s Day 2019 said that their store was either very quiet or fairly quiet.”

Jackie Baillie MSP said retail staff worked incredibly hard all year round, and were often on their feet for long shifts.

She added: “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 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.”