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Scottish shops should be closed on New Year’s Day to give shopworkers a well-deserved break says Usdaw

Date: 20 December 2022 Retail trade union Usdaw is backing the vast majority of Scottish shopworkers who want large stores to stay closed on New Year’s Day. The union is calling on the Scottish Government to reverse their opposition to giving retail workers a proper festive break.
The Christmas Day and New Year’s Day Trading (Scotland) Act 2007 prohibits trading in most large shops on Christmas Day and gave powers to the Scottish Government to stop the opening of those shops on New Year's Day. However the SNP Government continues to refuse to use that power to give shopworkers a proper festive break, with the First Minister offering no more than warm words and sympathy, but no action.
Tracy Gilbert – Usdaw Regional Secretary for Scotland says: “Our members are deeply disappointed with the attitude of the Scottish Government. Warm words and sympathy from the First Minister mean little when they refuse to enact powers given to them to stop the opening of large stores on New Year’s Day.
“Usdaw members’ relentless campaigning pushed the Scottish Government into holding a consultation on this issue last year. Despite the strong case made by retail workers for a proper break at New Year, they refused to act.
“They are clearly not listening to the 98% of Scottish shopworkers who want stores to close. In fact all the SNP in Government have done is stand back while New Year’s Day trading has grown, forcing more staff into work and away from their families on 1 January.
“Retail staff work incredibly hard all year round, but it is particularly busy and stressful throughout December. So they deserve to be able to spend time with family and friends. Hogmanay and New Year is a special holiday in Scotland, but this is not reflected in the experience of many retail workers.
“We urge retailers to ensure that, if they do trade on 1 January, stores are staffed with genuine volunteers only. Our message to the public is, if you really feel the need to shop on New Year’s Day, please respect shopworkers and understand they would most likely prefer to be spending time having a well-earned festive break.”
What Scottish shopworkers say:
  • “You're tired from working and don't really relax or enjoy the limited time you get with the kids. Then you start all over again working New Year’s Day too!!!”
  • “If, like myself, you have to work Boxing Day and New Year’s Day - it should be paid at least time and half.”
  • “As a store manager I have had to work Christmas and New Year. A lot of hard work goes into the weeks leading up. By Christmas Day you are exhausted and then back to work on Boxing Day. This year I also have to work New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day and on the second.”
  • “I am not happy working till 1930 on both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. By 4pm our store was fairly empty.”
  • “Finishing times on Christmas Eve and Hogmanay are creeping up later, which has a severe impact on family life for retail workers.” 
Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with around 360,000 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.
Usdaw’s New Year's Day Survey of 1,473 Scottish members found:
  • 98% agree that stores in Scotland should close on New Year's Day.
  • 79% are not happy to work on New Year's Day or 2 January.
  • 74% said they spend too little time with their loved ones over New Year.
  • 72% reported their store being fairly or very quiet on New Year's Day. 
Christmas Day and New Year's Day Trading (Scotland) Act 2007: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2007/13/contents
FMQ’s - Retail Stores on New Year’s Day:
Scottish Government consultation: New Year’s Day trading for large retailers: https://consult.gov.scot/economic-development/new-year-s-day-trading-for-large-retailers/
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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