Usdaw has long called for retail staff to have a proper break over Christmas and New Year. The union has secured legislation to restrict shop opening hours and negotiated improvements with employers, but there is much more to be achieved and the campaign continues.
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says:
“Finishing late on Christmas Eve and then getting straight back to work on Boxing Day means that too many shopworkers spend too little time with their loved ones. Our members tell us of how they arrive home shattered and have to spend time on Christmas Day getting ready for work the next day, which is why 97% want shops to shut on Boxing Day. This year, with Christmas falling on a Monday, the weekend before is set to be very busy.
“Usdaw secured legislation to stop large stores opening on Christmas Day and has been talking to retailers about staying closed on Boxing Day. Some do not plan to open on 26 December and we hope others will follow suit. Shops can open for 150 hours a week in the run-up to Christmas and many do, so we think a two-day break for staff is not unreasonable and retailers do not need to open on Boxing Day.
“Our Scottish members are deeply disappointed with the attitude of their government. Warm words and sympathy mean little when the Scottish Government continues to refuse to enact powers Holyrood gave them to stop large stores opening on New Year’s Day. Ministers clearly did not listen 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.
“Key workers in grocery retail do so much to keep us healthy and fed throughout the year, they deserve some quality time with their families. Facing high levels of abuse, threats and violence on a daily basis, particularly in an epidemic of shoplifting, the least they could hope for is a decent break over the festive period.
“For those retailers who do open, we have negotiated a number of national agreements for shops to be staffed with genuine volunteers only and our workplace reps are supporting members to help make sure that happens at store level. We also say to customers, if you must shop on Boxing Day or New Year’s Day, please treat the staff with respect and understand they would most likely rather have the time off. Our campaigns continue.”
Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers)
is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with over 350,000 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 www.usdaw.org.uk
Usdaw’s festive campaigns: www.usdaw.org.uk/Campaigns/Xmas-isn-t-working
Super Saturday set to be UK’s busiest in-store shopping day of peak trading: https://www.retailgazette.co.uk/blog/2023/10/super-saturday-busiest-peak-trading
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news
and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion