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STUC Women’s Conference 2019 – Usdaw raises the impact of poverty and the high street crisis on women workers

Date: 28 October 2019 Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw has a delegation of members attending the Scottish Trades Union Congress Annual Conference of Women Workers, which starts today in Perth.
Usdaw is seeking support from delegates for two propositions addressing concerns that low-paid insecure work and the ongoing crisis on our high streets have a disproportionate impact on women workers.

Paddy Lillis - Usdaw General Secretary says: “Poverty worldwide is gendered, with women more likely to be living in poverty and be working part-time on low pay. The gender pay gap has not improved in the last twenty years, which negatively impact women’s pay and studies show they are less likely to escape poverty.

“Continuing low minimum wage rates, age-related pay and cuts in social security are major contributors to women’s poverty. So we are calling for a package of measures to improve pay, make work more secure and protect incomes with reforms to working age and child benefits.

Usdaw is calling for:
  • Young workers to be paid the adult rate.
  • At least £10 per hour minimum wage.
  • Minimum contract of 16 hours per week, for those who want it.
  • End the two-child limit, scrapping the benefit cap and raising Child Benefit.
  • Restoring the annual uprating of working age benefits.
Usdaw’s ‘Time for Better Pay’ campaign: www.usdaw.org.uk/T4BP

Paddy Lillis continues: “The retail crisis continues, with thousands of jobs lost in Scotland over the last year and nearly a third of retail businesses plan to shed staff in the coming months. Women make up nearly 60% of the retail workforce, so these losses have a disproportionate impact on women workers and they are more likely to be impacted by store closures, business rationalisations and increasing automation.

“We launched our ‘Save our Shops’ campaign in response to the growing crisis on our high streets and Usdaw is promoting our industrial strategy for retail. We are calling on the governments in Holyrood and Westminster to listen to the concerns of our members by developing and delivering a strategy to save the retail industry.

Usdaw’s ‘Save Our Shops’ petition: We call on the Government to take urgent action by adopting an industrial strategy for retail and implementing the following comprehensive and co-ordinated policies:
  • Review taxation, commercial rents and business rates to ensure a level playing field between ‘bricks and mortar’ retailers and online retailers, providing a new framework that supports local communities and the wider economy.
  • A minimum wage of £10 per hour for all workers, secure work and investment in skillsand training to provide decent pay and job security for retail workers and drive up productivity.
  • Give retail workers a say over the future of retail and the introduction of new technology, with a designated inclusive body that ensures the Government recognises the crucial role retail has in the UK economy.

Save our Shops petition: www.usdaw.org.uk/signsos

Usdaw’s industrial strategy for retail: www.usdaw.org.uk/retailstrategy

Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest 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.

For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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The official website of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers