FMQs: Nicola Sturgeon considers New Year’s Day shop shut-down for staff

Nicola Sturgeon will consider a New Year's Day shutdown
Nicola Sturgeon will consider a New Year's Day shutdown
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Nicola Sturgeon is to consider demands for large stores to be forced to close down on New Year’s Day to ensure workers get the day off.

The First Minister told MSPs staff deserve a "festive break" as she pledged to look at the demand from a trades union.

Retail union USDAW was campaigning outside Parliament today, calling for an end to New year's Day trading for large stores in Scotland, similar to the Christmas Day shutdown.

Labour MSP Jackie Baillie said: "Many retail workers in Scotland had to work on January 1, instead of spending time with their families.

"This Parliament already has legislation in place covering Christmas and New Year day trading which would stop large stores from opening, but the New Year's Day provisions have not been implemented."

She called on Ms Sturgeon to commit to backing the union's demand for a consultation on New year's Day closing.

Ms Sturgeon said: "I do think workers deserve a festive break which the rest of us get the benefit of.

"I will commit to looking very carefully at the USDAW campaign. I absolutely understand the motivations driving that campaign and to consider what further steps this Government can take to address those concerns."

She pledged that the Government would "reply in detail" to Ms Baillie on the issue.

Next are among the major stores which open on New Years Day and industry chief branded the idea of a legal shutdown "outdated."

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, said: "Where there is demand from customers and availability of staff then shops ought to continue to be free to choose to open on New Year's Day if they so wish.

"The notion of banning trading on Ne’er Day is outdated and ill-thought out considering customers can already shop online whenever they choose. It is also unclear why shops have been singled out and not businesses in sectors such as hospitality, tourism and leisure.

"Implementing a trading ban would send out a very poor signal, and would fly in the face of the strenuous efforts being made to revitalise our high streets and to promote Scotland as a visitor destination at New Year.”