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Usdaw calls the High Streets 2030 Inquiry a Missed Opportunity

Date: 21 February 2019 The House of Commons’ Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has published their report High Streets and Town Centres in 2030. There are a number of useful ideas in the report which echo calls made in Usdaw’s own Industrial Strategy for the Retail Sector. However, greater focus must be given to the value that retail workers bring to the sector.
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “Usdaw is pleased to see that the crisis in the retail sector is being given the attention it deserves. We fully support the recommendations from the House of Commons Committee to enhance the £675 million Future High Street Fund and for the Government to undertake an urgent review of tax laws. Hundreds of thousands of High Street jobs have been lost in recent years and it is right for the Government to take action.

“The House of Commons report fails to look at the positive impact that the workforce has on the Retail sector and the positive impact that the Retail sector has on employment across the economy. As highlighted in the report, High Streets and Town Centres require urgent action, we cannot allow any more opportunities to go by without the views of the workforce being taken seriously.

“The Retail sector will only be able to deliver a vibrant future by listening to the views, ideas and concerns of the workforce. High Streets and Town Centres need to attract and retain the best possible staff. For this to happen, we need to ensure that the product knowledge and customer service skills which retail workers display on a daily basis is properly recognised. For this reason, Usdaw is repeating our calls for employee representatives to be given a seat on the Government’s High Street Task Force.

Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with around 425,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 28% over the decade. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.

Usdaw’s proposed strategy for the future of retail is based on three key strands:
  • A new economic frame is needed to support and develop the sector including a comprehensive review of commercial rents and business rates; reform of tax laws; and closing the gap between CEO pay and workers.
  • A range of measures need to be introduced to tackle the issues affecting workers in the retail sector including minimum pay of £10 per hour; minimum contract of 16 hours (for those who want them); and the right to an employment contract that reflects an individual’s actual hours of work.
  • Change the narrative to ensure retail jobs are viewed as ‘real jobs’ by getting a commitment from employers/government to invest in skills within the retail sector; a robust strategy on how to deal with automation; and a seat for Usdaw on the Expert Advisory Panel on High Streets.
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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