Retail trade union Usdaw has called on the Chancellor to use his Budget and Comprehensive Spending Review on 27 October to take substantial action to help save jobs in a struggling retail sector, avert the looming cost of living crisis and provide job security in light of the new technology revolution.

Usdaw is calling on the Government to address four key issues:

  1. Retail Recovery Plan to tackle the immediate crisis on our high streets, help save jobs and tackle long-term structural issues in the retail industry.
  2. New deal for workers to ensure work pays with a minimum wage of at least £10 per hour and an end to insecure contracts.
  3. Universal Credit to reform the system so that low-paid workers have a proper social security system that they can rely on.
  4. Automation and skills to help and support workers retain job security and incomes as new technology significantly changes the world of work.

Usdaw’s full Budget submission: www.usdaw.org.uk/Budget2021Autumn

Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “There is no doubt that the pandemic has raised many serious issues for working people, some new and others that have been around for a long time. So we are challenging the Chancellor to address these issues in the Budget by not just tackling the immediate problems, but making sure we do ‘build back better’.

“Usdaw has long called for the Government and retailers to work together to develop an industrial strategy and recovery plan for retail. Nearly 180,000 retail job losses and around 20,000 store closures last year lay bare the scale of the challenge the industry faces. Each one of those job losses is a personal tragedy for the individual worker and store closures are scarring our high streets and communities. There are substantial issues that need to be addressed like rents, rates and taxation, to create a level playing field between high streets and online retail.

“There needs to be lasting and fundamental change to the way society views our lowest paid workers. We need a new deal for workers: an immediate increase to a minimum wage of at least £10 per hour, an end to insecure employment, respect for shopworkers and action to ensure that retail jobs are no longer underpaid and undervalued. The Universal Credit cut of over £1,000 per year is going to devastate many working families’ incomes and the taper rate makes it really difficult to make up the loss. So there has to be action to fundamentally reform Universal Credit, to provide a proper social security system for low-paid workers.

“While there is no dispute that automation offers significant opportunities for business and consumers, it also poses challenges for many workers and employees.  Given the number of jobs at risk, Usdaw is concerned at the length of time it has taken the Government to give serious consideration to the impact of automation on the UK labour market. There needs to be a plan for reskilling the workforce and mitigating the negative impacts of new technology, particularly on low-paid workers. Good industrial relations through engagement with trade unions are crucial. It is essential that the Government hears and acts upon the views of trade unions to devise a comprehensive skills strategy that ensures the economy is best placed to respond the challenges of new technology in the workplace.”

“Our members are facing significant pressures as a result of the lasting impact of the coronavirus crisis and this is only likely to be worsened by the upcoming cut in Universal Credit, the rise in National Insurance Contributions and rising gas and electricity prices, as well as other Government policies and market forces. We hope that the Chancellor listens to their concerns and delivers a Budget that meets the needs of working people.”

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