Retail trade union Usdaw has secured a commitment from the Scottish Government to consult on large stores closing on New Year’s Day.
The union submitted a petition to the Scottish Parliament and spent a year providing evidence to convince the Public Petitions Committee to press Ministers to make progress on a consultation.
Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills Jamie Hepburn MSP has now confirmed that the Scottish Government will conduct the necessary consultation, as set out in the Christmas Day and New Year’s Day Trading (Scotland) Act 2007. However, no timetable has yet been set for the consultation.
The 2007 Act prohibits Christmas Day trading in most large stores and gave the Scottish Government the power to stop the same shops opening on New Year’s Day as well. However, Ne’er Day closing has never been enforced.
Stewart Forrest, Usdaw’s Scottish Divisional Officer commented: “Confirmation that a consultation on large stores closing on New Year’s Day will now take place, after an unnecessary 14 year delay, is a step forward in our campaign to get a proper break for shopworkers over the festive period. We are disappointed that the Minister has not set out a timetable for the consultation and we will continue to press for further progress.
“Our members have for many years demanded a proper break after the extremely busy and stressful shopping period in the run-up to Christmas. Ninety-eight per cent say that large stores should be closed and only 4% are happy to work on New Year’s Day or 2 January. Hogmanay and New Year is a special holiday, but this is not reflected in the experience of many retail workers, with three-quarters saying they spend too little time with friends and family.
Forrest urged the Scottish Government to open the consultation as soon as possible, so that legislation was in place for 1 January.