Shopworkers’ trade union leader Paddy Lillis has today written an open letter to the heads of the UK’s major retailers calling on them to reject Boxing Day trading and give the staff a decent break over Christmas.
Paddy Lillis, Usdaw General Secretary writes:
“With the country facing a crisis unlike any in our lifetime, retail and distribution workers have stepped up and kept food on all of our tables. The extraordinary response of essential retailers to the crisis has been rightly praised, and that response is down to the hard work and efforts of shopworkers on the frontline. When others stay safe at home, they go out to work. They have faced increased levels of violence and abuse, as well as huge worries about their health and that of their families.
“With further lockdowns throughout the UK and the closure of non-food retail, those retailers who have been able to stay open have had another uplift in trade and our members are working extremely hard to keep up with demand. They will continue to work hard to serve customers in the busy pre-Christmas period, as they always do.
“The Government has announced that it will be lifting the restrictions on households meeting for a short period over Christmas. This will be little comfort to retail workers who already struggle to spend time with even their immediate families during the Christmas period. Most retail workers feel under pressure to work on Boxing Day, even where it is supposed to be voluntary. The only way they will be guaranteed a decent break at Christmas is if food retailers close for Boxing Day.
“Poundland has taken the step of announcing that they will close on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day this year, as a thank you for their hard-working staff. Usdaw welcomes this and urges other retailers to do the same.
“For key workers, who have done so much this year, asking for shops to close on Boxing Day, so that they can have some quality time with their families, is really not too much to ask for. 2020 has been a year like no other, so let’s ensure that retail workers get a decent break at Christmas.”
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK’s fifth biggest trade union with over 400,000 members. Membership has increased by more than one-third over the last couple of decades. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.