Union demands level playing field for online and high street as Scottish government launches retail strategy

Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Leading retail trade union is demanding to create a more level playing field between online and high street as Scottish government today (24) launched a new retail strategy, which aims to encourage fair work and improve skills in the sector.

Actions in the Retail Strategy Scotland include developing and promoting a Fair Work Agreement that retailers can voluntarily sign up to, to improve fair work conditions across the sector and contribute to reduction of in-work poverty. 

Developing a Just Transition Plan for Retail to protect jobs and contribute to net zero emissions by 2045 through developing local supply chains, reuse of materials and sustainable travel choices by staff and customers is also one of the actions.

Welcoming the news, trade union Usdaw said that 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,” Usdaw General Secretary Paddy Lillis said.

Usdaw has been involved with the Steering Group, representing Scotland’s 240,000 retail workers.

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.”