Workers report appalling working conditions

  • Ten-hour shifts at less than 10ºC with the doors wide open.
  • Leaks, broken toilets or a very poor electricity system.
  • Bugs and other insects on the store clothes or rats and mice running around the shop floor.

Workers from Tartan House, the kilt and souvenir company that owns about twenty shops only between Edinburgh and Glasgow, report unacceptable working conditions that the management doesn’t seem to be willing to fix. They have begun organising with the trade union Clydeside Industrial Workers of the World to improve conditions. The employees say they have to endure ten-hour shifts standing still without heating and with the door completely open. To withstand the low temperatures they usually have to wear various layers of clothing. The workers complain: “It’s too cold. I am wearing two pairs of leggings, jeans, a thermal shirt, long sleeve shirt, and a jumper and I’m still cold”. They have tried to talk to their supervisors but nothing changed. According to the workers, they are also required to keep the doors open so that the pedestrians can hear the music from outside the shop. This music is usually so loud that sometimes it is very difficult to understand the customers.

“Customers don’t want to come into the shop. They see us wearing jackets and scarves and they immediately know that here is not nice […] and we are not happy”, they added.

This is just the first impression when you come into the shop, but then they explained that the situation is much worse than what you can see. Many of the toilets in the stores are not working properly and they have no lights or no sanitary bins. Sometimes they don’t even have a working toilet at all and they have to go to other places to use the toilet. Other times they have to wait for a long time until someone comes to cover them if they are working alone.

The workers demands include that:

  • Doors should be closed in winter and the heating must work correctly to guarantee a minimum temperature of 16ºC.
  • Toilets and facilities should be fully functional
  • Proper pest control be carried out in affected shops
  • The requirement to chase the shoplifters should be stopped.
  • Holiday pay should be paid in full to those leaving the workplace.

Can you imagine having lunch in a staff room where you know that rats and mice are running around? Then, in the stockroom, they can easily find bugs and other insects living between the same clothes that you can find on the shop floor. These working conditions are not consistent with good customer service and break basic health and safety regulations.

Would you buy anything from this store if you knew it had rat droppings on it? Careful, they don’t do refunds.

Author: Nerea Sanchez Granada

Featured image taken from IWW Migrant Workers Network- Glasgow