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Anneliese Dodds sets out a Labour recovery plan that works with businesses and trade unions - Usdaw welcomes a different approach

Date: 21 September 2020 Retail trade union Usdaw has welcomed today’s address, to Labour Connected, by Anneliese Dodds who set out Labour’s plan to work with businesses and trade unions to help Britain recover, retrain and rebuild.
The Shadow Chancellor paid tribute to the extraordinary sacrifices of the British people and key workers over the last six months and set out Labour’s three steps for Britain’s economy:
 
Recover Jobs: With a Job Recovery Scheme to enable businesses in key sectors to bring back more staff on reduced hours, with government subsidising a proportion of wages for the rest of the working week.
 
Retrain Workers: With a National Retraining Strategy to help people whose hours have been cut to increase their skills or to retrain in a new area, and to enable people who have lost their jobs to transition into new work.
 
Rebuild Business: With a Business Rebuilding Programme to target government support to struggling but viable businesses in the lead up to the Chancellor’s debt repayments cliff edge next year.
 
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “Throughout the pandemic Usdaw engaged with the Government at a time of crisis and we welcomed the jobs retention scheme, changes to statutory sick pay and safety guidance in stores. All matters we raised with the Government and secured improvements.
 
“However that joint working has stopped and the Government is no longer listening, which is very worrying as we head towards another peak of the virus. So we welcome the comments from Anneliese today, who very strongly made the case for working together to help the country recover.
 
“We’ve already seen over 125,000 retail job losses and nearly 14,000 store closures this year and that is before furlough ends. So we are deeply concerned about the future of the retail industry, which was already struggling for the pandemic.
 
“What retail needs is a tripartite approach of unions, employers and government working together to develop a recovery plan. We have long called for an industrial strategy for retail to help a sector that was already struggling before the coronavirus emergency.
 
“We have a choice here. Do we want to see the high street go to the wall, or do we want to save it? Retail is an important feature of our towns and cities, it employs three million people across the UK and we need a recovery plan to get the industry back on its feet.”
 
Usdaw has called for a recovery plan to be developed with trade unions and retail employers to include:
  • Fundamental reform of business rates. The Government committed to a review of business rates earlier this year, but assurance is needed that this will not be delayed further.
  • An immediate and comprehensive review of rental values and lease arrangements. In the short term measures are needed to prevent commercial landlords taking legal action for rental defaults during the lockdown period. In the medium term, a rebalancing of the relationship between landlords and tenants is required.
  • Reform of UK tax law to ensure that companies pay their fair share of tax through tackling tax avoidance and the use of offshore havens, with the aim of creating a level playing field between online and high street retailers.
  • Funding for local authorities so they can invest in their local economy, transport networks and high streets. We cannot revive our high streets if core services continue to be undermined.
  • Investment in skills for retail workers, including through union learning and high-quality apprenticeships. This should include an in-depth assessment of emerging trends and potential skills shortages/gaps within the sector.
  • A new deal for retail, distribution and home delivery workers based around a real living wage and guaranteed hours.
Notes for editors:
 
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with over 400,000 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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