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Save our shops! Usdaw calls on the next Labour Government to deliver a retail recovery plan

Date: 26 September 2021 Retail trade union Usdaw has today called on the next Labour Government to tackle the growing crisis in retail, an industry already struggling before Covid-19 and has been severely impacted by the pandemic.
Usdaw today moved a composite motion at the annual Labour conference, which calls on the party to commit to:
  • Delivering a new deal for workers based on a genuine living wage and secure jobs.
  • Challenging the Government to deliver support for those businesses, places and people most affected by the economic crisis.
  • Reforming corporate governance so that unions and communities have a say.
  • Supporting devolved and local authorities to regenerate high streets.
  • Rebuilding the post-Brexit and post-Covid economy to support business and deliver Net Zero.
  • Reforming UK tax law to ensure all companies pay their fair share. 
Addressing Labour Conference in Brighton, Dave McCrossen - Usdaw Deputy General Secretary said: “The last 18 months have been a struggle no matter what industry you work in. Too many of us have had to deal with our own personal tragedies, and worry for those who we love. Often these worries have also been combined with financial insecurity about money and work.
“For so many workers in sectors like high street retail, the impact of the virus has been catastrophic. As the individual effects of the Coronavirus pandemic start to ease, we now face unprecedented challenges in the high street retail sector and we face the very real prospect that the heart of our communities will be ripped out and that the livelihoods of millions of people across the country will be shattered.
“Our high streets had to shut down during the height of the crisis, to keep everyone safe, but as consumers became more comfortable with online shopping and with many still uncomfortable returning to busy indoor environments, our high street retail economy is now in a slow-motion collapse.
“Some huge names have already disappeared from our high streets, taking with them thousands of jobs, from many thousands of dedicated workers. In the UK this year alone, more than 20,000 retail workers have been made redundant. That's on top of 180,000 job losses in 2020. It is projected that by the end of this year there will have been 400,000 retail jobs lost in 24 months.
“If we saw this scale of job losses in any other sector, it would be front page news. There would be a national outcry. There would be serious Government intervention, but so far we have seen no such support from this Government. No lifeline to this industry in crisis, but Usdaw believes it is not too late. There are still lots of measures that could address this crisis.
“Usdaw's High Street Recovery Plan lays out a number of practical steps that could be taken to help secure the future of retail. Our cities and regions cannot be expected to support their local high streets without significant Government funding to underpin this work.
“Bricks and mortar retailers on our high streets are currently saddled with huge tax, rent and rates bills, while online retailers rake in billions, but pay only a tiny percentage to the UK's tax coffers. We need to fundamentally reform this unfair system, in a way that supports our high streets up and down the country and ensures multinational companies pay their fair share to support our country as we bounce back following this crisis. 
“We need to build back jobs in the retail sector. Decent jobs, with a new deal for workers based around a genuine living wage and guaranteed hours – not low hours or zero hours. Only Labour looks at this unfair system and sees the change that must come. Only Labour will take the measures needed to ensure jobs are secure.
Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with over 380,000 members. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemical industry and other trades.
The Crisis In Retail - Usdaw’s Case for a Retail Recovery Plan: https://www.usdaw.org.uk/CMSPages/GetFile.aspx?guid=175de93b-59bc-427d-a262-75ee23db7639
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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