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STUC Conference - USDAW Union Worries Over Automation

16th April 2019

STUC Conference: USDAW makes a call to ‘save our shops', raises the threat to jobs from automation and says it is ‘time for better pay'.

STUC Conference: Usdaw makes a call to ‘save our shops', raises the threat to jobs from automation and says it is ‘time for better pay'

Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw is calling on delegates at the Scottish Trades Union Congress to back the union’s Time for Better Pay campaign, which seeks a minimum wage of at least £10 per hour for all workers and an end to insecure jobs.

Usdaw is also seeking support to tackle the retail crisis to ‘save our shops’ and address the threat to jobs from automation. The union has a delegation of members from across Scotland attending the STUC annual conference in Dundee, which starts on Monday 15 April and runs through to Wednesday.

Stewart Forrest - Usdaw Scottish Divisional Officer says: "We are concerned by the rise of automation across the Scottish economy. A recent report found that up to 46% of Scottish jobs are at risk because of automation by 2030. The Scottish Government’s Flexible Workforce Development Fund offers could deliver the skills necessary to adapt to the challenges of the future, however the role of trade has been ignored.

"We are calling on the Scottish Government to work with the STUC to ensure unions are involved in all future decisions regarding this fund, through a tripartite working party, of government, businesses and unions. Trade Unions can play a vital role in ensuring that funding effectively delivers enhanced skills across the workforce and encouraging members to return to some form of education."

"We are also concerned that despite the significant contribution it makes to the Scottish economy, the importance of the retail sector continues to be overlooked. Retail workers have been undervalued for too long and job security in the sector has not been a priority for the current Government. Many families in Scotland rely on the income from retail jobs and the loss of these jobs impacts our communities.

“The Scottish Retail Consortium says that 16,000 retail jobs have been lost across Scotland. Falkirk has been worst hit, losing 27.7% of its workforce, while Inverclyde lost a quarter. Failing shops and retail job losses are devastating our high streets."

Paddy Lillis - Usdaw General Secretary says: “Times are tough and the future is uncertain for many Scottish workers, so the STUC annual congress is an important gathering. We send our fraternal greetings to all delegates and wish them well in their deliberations.

“We have deep concerns about the continued growth of in-work poverty along with the Conservative Government’s failure to implement policies that would deal with the issues of low pay and insecure work.

“In Scotland, there are over 1 million people living in poverty. According to Child Poverty Action Group, 61% of children in poverty in Scotland live in families where at least one adult is in work. At the same time as rising levels of in-work poverty, we have seen the proliferation of poor working practices such as zero and short-hours contracts, agency work and bogus self-employment, which have disproportionately affected those in low-paid jobs.

“Usdaw recently launched our Time for Better Pay campaign based on survey responses from over 10,500 low-paid workers. Usdaw’s evidences suggests that there are at least 470,000 workers in Scotland having to rely on unsecured loans to pay essential bills and that 55% of these are struggling with the repayments. Furthermore, due to the numbers of workers earning less than £8.50 per hour in Scotland, Usdaw’s evidence suggests that 10% of Scottish workers are likely to be missing meals to pay the bills. It is ‘time for better pay’ in Scotland."

Usdaw’s Time for Better pay campaign is calling for:

For young workers to be paid the full adult rate.

A £10 per hour minimum wage rate.

A ban on zero-hours contracts

Tackling short-hours contracts through introducing a statutory minimum contract of 16 hours per week for those who want it.

A statutory right to an employment contract which reflects an individual’s normal hours of work

For more information and to sign the petition:

Usdaw’s Save our Shops campaign is calling for:

Urgent Government action to address the challenges facing retail in Scotland through an industrial strategy for the sector. From dealing with the issue of business rates faced by high street retailers to tackling the extortionate rents that have become all too common across the sector.

Increased focus on retail across Government policy and decision making mechanisms

A range of measures and new initiatives by Local Authorities to help the high street and increase footfall

A robust strategy on how to deal with the short and long term impact of automation on key sectors such as retail. This must include significant investment in skills for retail workers to help tackle the challenges of automation.

Usdaw’s industrial strategy for retail:

Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with over 420,000 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.

Scottish Trades Union Congress website -

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