SHOP workers union Usdaw has given Labour its backing as the only major party that will deliver the goods for its 340,000 members in the general election.
"The reason we are supporting Labour is very simple," says General Secretary John Hannett. "Every time Labour has promised something that will dramatically change the lives of our members they have delivered.
"Labour said it would bring in a minimum wage and it did. For poorly paid retail workers this simple pledge has meant a massive difference to basic pay levels and the living standards of their families.
"We remember that both the Tories and the Lib Dems opposed the minimum wage and future significant rises would be uncertain if they came to power."
The union has launched a National Parents and Carers campaign and is confident a new Labour Government would boost the rights of those who care for others.
"We have already seen record increases in child benefit, the introduction of childcare tax benefits and the doubling of maternity pay which has made it easier for our members to spend valuable time with their children when they're young," said Mr Hannett.
"We welcome Labour's commitment to extend paid maternity leave to 12 months by the end of the next parliament, give new fathers the chance to take paid leave and free nursery places for all three and four-year-olds.
"We'll be making the case for increased maternity pay if Labour are re-elected"
Usdaw will be actively campaigning to make sure the Tories don't defeat Labour MPs in key marginals.
Mr Hannett also warns anyone considering voting Lib Dem as a protest to beware of false promises.
He said: "The Lib Dems are no friends of trade unions and we know they will say anything to get elected. They opposed the minimum wage and have described above inflation rises as dangerous.
"They want to scrap the New Deal and opposed the 10p tax rate which would have helped our members.
"The Lib Dems are not to be trusted and the reality is that a vote for them will only let the Tories in."
? THE Association of Convenience Stores ? whose members include the Co-operative Group, United Co-operatives and Midlands Co-op ? has opened an Election Centre to support its 32,000 member retail outlets in the run-up to May 5th.
ACS Chief Executive David Rae set out five questions that ACS believe retailers should be asking. He said: "Why not ask your local candidates what they and their party will do:
? To promote policies that will deliver a level playing field and choice and diversity in local shopping
? To tackle crime and anti-social behaviour in and around your store
? To promote a no ID, no sale policy where young people expect to show proof of age when purchasing age-restricted products
? To reduce the costs and burdens of red tape on small businesses
? To help convenience stores maintain Post Office services."
He added: "Local issues are important, and the votes of convenience stores ? there are about 80 in each constituency ? do matter."
By calling the ACS Election Centre on 01252 515001, or e-mailing: [email protected] retailers can learn about candidates; about the track record of sitting MPs and about the latest announcements affecting the sector from all the parties.