The Scottish Government has launched a new retail strategy, which aims to encourage fair work and improve skills in the sector. Usdaw, the trade union for retail, has been involved with the Scottish Government’s Steering Group, ensuring that the views and concerns of Scotland’s 240,000 retail workers were heard in the formulation of the strategy.
Scottish Regional Secretary Tracy Gilbert said: “Retail is the biggest private sector employer in Scotland and it is only right that the Scottish Government should address the ongoing challenges the sector is facing, which have been accelerated due to the Covid crisis.
“We welcome the focus on fair work in the strategy and look forward to being involved in the development of the Fair Work Agreement, which we want all employers to sign up to. We will be seeking to shape the agreement with the aim of making a real difference in tackling issues like insecure work.
“We also call on all retail employers to engage with trade unions to ensure that their staff have a voice in the workplace. Retail workers do an essential and demanding job, which should be properly rewarded.
“The changing retail landscape also demands investment in skills and learning so that retail workers are not left behind by automation and new technology. We will continue to engage with the Scottish Government and employers on the Flexible Workforce Development Fund, to ensure that support for retail workers’ skills is better targeted and resourced.
“We also welcome the continued commitment within the strategy to Union Learning, which supports thousands of retail workers back into learning every year. This strategy is a step in the right direction and we will be calling for further focus on the strategic and structural issues that are causing such major challenges for the retail sector and its employees.”
Usdaw General Secretary Paddy Lillis said: “We are pleased to have had the opportunity to put forward our members’ views and concerns to inform the development of this strategy and believe that the strategy lays the foundations to tackle a number of issues such as improving pay and developing skills.
“It is clear that there are major issues to be addressed to create a more level playing field between online and bricks and mortar retail. This must include the fundamental reform of the non-domestic rates system which the industry has been calling for.
“On a wider basis, the Scottish and Westminster Governments must take urgent action to address the cost of living crisis, as the escalating squeeze on incomes could have a catastrophic impact on customer confidence and demand if left unchecked, putting even more retailers in peril.”