South Scotland Labour MSP Colin Smyth has joined with USDAW – the Union for shop, distributive and allied workers – to call on the Scottish Government to use its powers to allow shopworkers’ to have a much needed day off on New Year’s Day.
Under the Christmas Day and New Year’s Day Trading (Scotland) Act 2007, Scottish Ministers can ban large shops from opening on New Year’s Day, subject to consultation.
USDAW is urging the Scottish Government to open that consultation and for MSPs to listen to shopworkers’ concerns about their work/life balance.
Workers’ rights to a decent break over Christmas, and premium payments for working bank holidays at present depend largely on their contracts of employment and agreements reached between their employer and trade union.
Hogmanay and New Year is a special holiday in Scotland, but many retail workers have to work, with three-quarters saying that they feel they spend too little time with friends and family over New Year.
As part of their campaign USDAW presented a petition signed by residents across South Scotland to Colin Smyth backing their calls and have tabled a petition with the Scottish Parliament.
South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said, “I fully back Usdaw’s worthwhile campaign to protect the rights of workers”.
“It is unacceptable that shop staff are expected to work long, un-sociable hours on days such as the recent New Year’s Day, which many of us enjoyed as a bank holiday. This work has damaging effects on both worker’s physical and mental health, many of whom are on low and minimum wages”.
“The Scottish Government have the powers to give workers a break and they should conduct a wide ranging consultation, including with shopworkers, to ensure that their needs are met and working conditions are improved.”
Stewart Forrest, USDAW’s Scottish Divisional Officer said, “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. Only 4% of Scottish retail workers are happy to work on New Year’s Day”.
“Hogmanay and New Year is a special holiday, 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.”