THOUSANDS of members of a trade union have called on their MSPs to close large retail stores on New Year’s Day.

USDAW (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) delivered more than 3,000 postcards to the Scottish Parliament from shopworkers tired of working extensive hours over the Christmas period.

Jackie Baillie, Dumbarton MSP, has stepped up to support what she called the “worthwhile campaign”.

The Labour politician said: “I fully support USDAW’s worthwhile campaign to protect the rights of workers during the busiest time of the year for the retail sector.

“It is unacceptable that shop staff are expected to work long, unsociable hours on days such as New Year’s Day, which many of us enjoy as a bank holiday.

“This work has damaging effects on both worker’s physical and mental health and many of them are on low and minimum wages.”

A survey from USDAW of around 1,000 Scottish retail staff found 98 per cent say that stores should be shut on New Year’s Day.

It also found that three-quarters feel they spend too little time with friends and family over New Year and only 4 per cent are happy to work on New Year’s Day, or January 2.

Currently, the Christmas Day and New Year’s Trading Act (Scotland) 2007 prohibits any trading in most large shops on Christmas Day and gives powers to the Scottish Government to stop shops from trading on New Year’s Day as well, however the latter clause has never been enacted.

Following the question of closing stores on New Year’s Day and supporting USDAW’s calls was put forward to SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon during First Minister’s Questions.

The SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon, replied: “Shop workers deserve a festive break such as the rest of us get the benefit of. I commit to looking very carefully at the USDAW campaign.

“I absolutely understand the motivations that are driving the campaign, and I will consider what further steps the government can take to address those concerns. When I have had the opportunity to do that, I will be happy to ask the relevant minister to reply in detail to Jackie Baillie.”

Stewart Forrest, USDAW’s Scottish divisional officer, responded: “We welcome that the first minister has agreed to look carefully at USDAW’s campaign to close large stores on New Year’s Day.

“However, in the 13 years since legislation was passed, we now need the required consultation to take place, not just warm words in the Scottish Parliament.”