Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says:
“Retail is at the heart of our communities. Not only does it provide 120,000 retail jobs across Wales, it serves as a social hub at the heart of our communities and helps counter social isolation. The last two years have been tough for people and retail has been one of the industries hardest hit by the Coronavirus crisis. Almost one in five Welsh shops now stand empty.
“Retail workers feel their jobs are not secure, are often struggling on low pay and are significantly affected by the cost of living crisis. They are typically working on short-hours contracts and are too often not guaranteed the hours that they need to make ends meet.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has heightened many of the difficulties facing retail and a recovery plan is urgently needed to ensure that our high streets get through this crisis. We welcome the support provided by the Welsh Labour Government through the Economic Resilience Fund, but recognise that there are key structural issues to address to support the retail sector's recovery.
“As part of that support and recovery, continued investment in skills for retail workers is vital, particularly at this time of crisis. Therefore we commend the Welsh Government for its continued funding for Union Learning, which supports thousands of retail workers in returning to learning, including basic and digital skills.
“As a next step, we call on the Welsh Government to work with unions and businesses to develop an urgent recovery plan for retail, looking at the wider pressures facing the sector such as business rates, rents and lease arrangements. This plan should also include continued support for local authority investment in, and ownership of, their high streets. We also call on the Welsh Government to work with unions to encourage retail employers to implement a real Living Wage and secure contracts with guaranteed hours.
“Retail workers need high quality, secure and well-paid employment. After the chaos of the pandemic, we now have an opportunity to build back stronger for workers across Wales.”
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 ‘Save our Shops’ campaign: https://www.usdaw.org.uk/Campaigns/Save-Our-Shops-(1)
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news
and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion