Addressing Congress in Liverpool, Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary said:
“On behalf of all Usdaw members, I want to start with a message to the 12,500 Wilko workers. You and your union GMB have our absolute support and our unwavering solidarity, as you face this devastating outcome. Usdaw stands with you and we stand with every worker who fears that their workplace, their job, will be next on the line.
“There are three million retail workers in the UK, serving our communities, working hard to feed their families and pay their bills. But too often they and their jobs are treated as disposable by employers, by administrators and by the Government.
“None of us in Usdaw will ever forget the collapse of Woolworths in 2009. 27,000 jobs lost. Absolute devastation for our members, just like in Wilko they were loyal, hardworking and many of them with long service.
“Usdaw fought for our members, all the way to the European Court of Justice. We fought against a loophole that cheated our members out of proper consultation and I’m pleased to say that Labour has pledged to close that loophole in Government. But it sickens me that here we are, nearly fifteen years later and workers are still being put through hell.
“With an employment rights framework that fails to protect them. With administration law that puts them at the back of the queue. With a government that fails to act, and fails to care, as our high streets dwindle and die. But it doesn’t have to be this way. We have a choice.
“Usdaw is proposing a comprehensive plan for the future of retail work. A new economic framework, replacing our outdated business rates system, to level the playing field for online and high street businesses. Proper funding for our local authorities, to make their high streets places that people can access and that people want to visit. Better pay and secure work for retail workers with a new deal, including stronger redundancy protections, sustained investment in skills and safeguards on automation.
“All of this can be done, and all of this must be done. It’s time to act, to protect jobs, to protect workers and to protect our communities.”
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
A plan for the future of retail work - ensuring retail jobs are better jobs: www.usdaw.org.uk/RetailPlan2023
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news
and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion