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MPs’ inquiry into violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers welcomed by Usdaw

Date: 18 December 2020 Retail trade union Usdaw has welcomed today’s announcement of a ‘Violence and abuse towards retail workers’ inquiry by the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee. Yesterday the union secured 100,000 signatures on a ‘protect shopworkers’ petition that should now trigger a parliamentary debate.
Launched by shopworkers’ trade union leader Paddy Lillis, the petition can still be signed at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/328621 It is backed by 23 major retailers and the industry’s leading trade bodies, with research by the Co-op showing its aims have public support as well.

Last October Usdaw, British Retail Consortium, Association of Convenience Stores and the Federation of Independent Retailers jointly wrote to the Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, Yvette Cooper MP, to call for an inquiry into the growing problem of violence and abuse against shopworkers.

Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “This is turning into a good week for our members, in terms of tackling the appalling violence, threats and abuse that they all too often suffer. We were delighted to yesterday secure the necessary signatures on our petition to trigger a parliamentary debate. This new select committee inquiry, which we called for, is a very welcome opportunity to evidence the need or a ‘protection of shopworkers’ law.

“It has been a terrible year for our members, with incidents of abuse doubling during the pandemic. Retail workers, their friends, family and loved ones, are saying loud and clear that enough is enough, abuse should never be just a part of the job.

“We were deeply disappointed by the Government’s initial response to the petition, offering little more than sympathy. Unfortunately, they also objected to the Alex Norris’ protection of shopworkers bill in the House of Commons. So we are now looking for MPs to get behind retail staff, who are key workers providing essential services, and help turn around the Government’s opposition.

“Usdaw will respond to this ‘call for evidence’ and encourage our members on the frontline of retail to participate in the survey. Shopworkers have a crucial role in our communities and that role must be valued and respected, they deserve the protection of the law.”

Notes for editors:
 
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with over 400,000 members. Membership has increased by more than one-third over the last couple of decades. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.
 
Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry: https://committees.parliament.uk/work/915/violence-and-abuse-towards-retail-workers/
 
Assaults on Retail Workers (Offences) Bill promoted by Alex Norris MP (Labour/Co-op, Nottingham North) was timetabled for its second reading in the House of Commons, but the Government objected to it progressing and is now delayed until Friday 8 January. https://bills.parliament.uk/bills/2725
 
Interim results of the Usdaw’s 2020 survey, based on 2,317 responses, show that in 2020 so far: 85.49% were verbally abused, 56.87% were threatened. 16.27% shopworkers had been assaulted during their career. 8.59% had been assaulted this year. The final results of the survey will be published in the New Year. Responses to the question - In your experience during the Coronavirus emergency are incidents of work related violence and abuse…much worse 39.63%, worse 36.41%, the same 17.24%, not as bad 4.42%, much fewer 2.3%.
 
Co-op respect for shopworkers survey: https://www.co-operative.coop/media/news-releases/respect-for-shopworkers-one-in-five-customers-admit-to-showing-aggression
 
23 retailers and industry bodies urge PM to act on violence and abuse against shopworkers: ACS, Aldi, Asda, BIRA, Boots, BRC, Central England Co-op, Co-op, Dixons Carphone, Homebase, Lidl GB, Marks and Spencer, Mid Counties Co-operative, McColl’s, Morrisons, Nationwide, NISA, NFRN, Sainsbury’s, Southern Co-op, Street Works UK, Tesco and WH Smith https://www.co-operative.coop/media/news-releases/leading-retail-ceos-and-industry-bodies-urge-pm-to-act-on-violence-and-abuse
 
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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