A LEADING trade union has said it is disappointed with Humza Yousaf’s response to a question in First Minister’s Questions (FMQs) about the closure of large retail shops on New Year’s Day.

Retail trade union Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers), which represents 360,000 members and is the UK’s fifth largest trade union, warned that the First Minister’s “warm words won’t give shopworkers the break they deserve on New Year’s Day”.

The union criticised the SNP for refusing to use their “powers to give shopworkers a proper festive break”.

READ MORE: Landmark trade union agreement signed in popular Scottish venue

During FMQs on Thursday, Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie (below) asked Yousaf about closing large retail shops on New Year’s Day 2024.

The National:

Baillie said: “This Parliament passed the Christmas Day and New Year’s Day Trading (Scotland) Act 2007, in which provision was made—this was subject, of course, to consultation—for the Scottish ministers to stop large stores trading on New Year’s Day.

“The First Minister knows, as we all do, that retail staff work very hard, especially at this time of year, when they face longer hours and, indeed, more demanding customers. They deserve a break.

“The Scottish National Party says that it believes in fair work, yet it has rejected calls from the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers to fully implement the bill.

“Why is the First Minister opposed to giving staff in large stores the day off on New Year’s Day?”

Yousaf (below) responded: “We are not. That is a mischaracterisation of our position. We believe in fair work. We are proud of the work that our party has done on fair work principles, which we expect everybody—including the Government—to abide by.

The National:

“I will examine what more we can do in relation to the 2007 act. I am more than happy to work with Usdaw, for which we have the utmost respect, and retail staff.

“It is important that Jackie Baillie raises the point that, at this time of year in particular, our retail staff do an incredible job, often in very difficult circumstances.

“I will see what more we can do in relation to the 2007 act, because I am proud that we are the party of fair work principles.”

This comes as an overwhelming majority of Scottish Usdaw members believe shops in Scotland should be closed on New Year’s Day.

READ MORE: Three stories the Tories didn't want you to see before Christmas

In a survey sent to 1473 Scottish members, 98% agreed that shops should shut, 78% said they were not happy to work on New Year’s Day or on January 2, 74% said they spend too little time with their loved ones over the New Year period, and 72% reported their shop being fairly or very quiet on New Year’s Day.

Responding to the comments made by the First Minister, Tracy Gilbert, Usdaw’s regional secretary for Scotland, said: “The First Minister’s warm words about ‘fair work’ and taking another look at this issue is too little too late.

“It won’t mean much to our members while the Scottish Government continually refuses to enact their power to stop the opening of large stores on New Year’s Day.

“They have persistently not listened to the 98% of Scottish shopworkers who want stores to close. Too many will now be going to work on January 1 next year when they’d rather be somewhere else.

“Our members are deeply disappointed with the attitude of the Scottish Government. Retail staff have work every day to keep our communities fed and healthy, face high levels of abuse and are now dealing with a very busy run up to the festive season.

“The very least these key workers deserve is that the Scottish Government shows their appreciation for the essential work they do by giving them a proper festive break.”

The Christmas Day and New Year's Day Trading (Scotland) Act 2007 barred large stores from opening on Christmas Day and gave the Scottish Government powers to introduce a similar ban on New Year’s Day.

However, union representatives said “the SNP Government continues to refuse to use that power to give shopworkers a proper festive break.”