HELENSBURGH’S MSP has given her backing to a trade union’s campaign to keep large shops closed on New Year’s Day.

Jackie Baillie joined members of the USDAW (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) union at the Scottish Parliament last week, calling for the Scottish Government to enact legislation to stop shops trading on January 1.

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.

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But the latter clause has never been brought into force.

Ms Baillie, who raised the issue with Nicola Sturgeon at First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood on January 9, said: “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 workers’ physical and mental health. Many are on low and minimum wages.”

Ms Sturgeon promised to “consider what further steps the government can take to address those concerns”.

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

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.”

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