NEW LEADERSHIP GROUP FORMED TO IMPROVE SCOTTISH RETAIL
The Scottish Government is to form a new leadership group as part of its new retail strategy.
Business minister Tom Arthur (pictured above) launched the plan last Thursday at Holyrood, saying he will co-chair a group bringing together industry leaders to look at ways to improve the sector.
As part of the group’s work, it will be tasked with coming up with a fair work agreement that retail bosses can sign up to, affirming their commitments to preserving workers’ rights.
The 59-page strategy said the leadership group could consider issues such as zero-hours contracts, fire and rehire practices, trade union recognition and the Real Living Wage.
Arthur said: “Building on the collaboration involved in creating this strategy, the industry leadership group will oversee the development and delivery of strategy commitments.
It will focus on the actions of the national strategy for economic transformation that will directly impact the retail sector.”
He continued: “Let me be clear – the publication of this strategy is just the beginning.
It is the start of a new conversation with businesses and trade unions, customers and workers about how to support our retailers to overcome the challenges and seize opportunities as we rebuild after Covid.
About how our recovery should improve the lives of people and their families, people who work in retail and the customers themselves.”
The minister pledged to have “maximum worker representation” on the leadership group, with retail trade union Usdaw being invited to join, ensuring that the concerns of Scotland’s retail workers were heard in the formulation of the strategy.
Retail is the largest private sector employer in Scotland, comprising more than 15,500 businesses employing more than 240,000 people a high proportion of which are women and young people.
Scottish regional secretary Tracy Gilbert said: “We will be seeking to shape the agreement with the aim of making a real difference in tackling issues like insecure work.
“The changing retail landscape also demands investment in skills and learning so that retail workers are not left behind by automation and new technology.
“We will continue to engage with the Scottish Government and employers on the Flexible Workforce Development Fund, to ensure that support for retail workers’ skills is better targeted and resourced.”
The news comes as data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that clothing sales jumped more than 13% during the month, bucking the overall trend across British retailers.
Overall retail sector sales dropped by 0.3% in February, down from a rise of 1.9% in January.
Sales are now 3.7% ahead of where they were at in February 2020, before the pandemic.
Food shops saw a 0.2% reduction in sales, especially in the alcohol and tobacco segments, which statisticians said could be down to more people going out to pubs and restaurants.
Sales of fuel for cars and other vehicles jumped by 3.6%, recovering to above its pre-pandemic levels for the first time, as more people travelled due to the lifting of restrictions.
Heather Bovill, ONS deputy director for surveys and economic indicators said “After a buoyant January, retail sales fell back a little last month.
There was a notable decline for companies that predominantly trade online, following a strong performance over the festive and New Year period. More socialising as well as many of us returning to the workplace meant a good month for clothing and department stores, with people looking to expand their wardrobes.”