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Congress 2020: Usdaw welcomes the TUC's call on the Government to include trade unions in working together for a national recovery

Date: 14 September 2020 Retail trade union Usdaw has welcomed today’s speech to Congress 2020 by Frances O’Grady, making the case for the Government to work with trade unions to put in place a national recovery plan, something that unions have been calling for since the beginning of lockdown.
Highlighting the joint working between Government, employers and trade unions that brought about the Jobs Retention Scheme, which saved millions of jobs, the TUC General Secretary warned of a tsunami of job losses when the scheme ends in just over six weeks.
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “The TUC is right to promote joint working to get the country past the Covid-19 pandemic. 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 called for a recovery plan to be developed with trade unions and retail employers and 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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