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Peers urged by Usdaw to back a protection of shopworkers law – Lords today due to debate amendments to the policing bill

Date: 17 November 2021 Retail trade union Usdaw is calling on Peers to back two protection of shopworkers amendments to the Government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which are due to be debated today.
Usdaw has today launched shocking statistics from their annual survey during the annual Respect for Shopworkers Week, 15-21 November. Interim results from nearly 3,500 retail staff show that in the last twelve months: 
  • 89% have experienced verbal abuse.
  • 64% were threatened by a customer.
  • 11% were assaulted.
  • 46% said they were not confident that reporting abuse, threats and violence will make a difference.
  • 7% of those who had been assaulted did not report the incident. 
The Government has recently suggested they would look at supporting a protection of shopworkers law, like the ground-breaking legislation that came into force in Scotland in August this year. The move is backed by retail employers, leading retail bodies, the Home Affairs Select Committee and the shopworkers’ trade union.
 
Yesterday the Government agreed to ratify the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Violence and Harassment Convention, with the DWP Secretary of State claiming: “We already have some of the strongest laws to protect employees and we want to strengthen these even further, including by introducing explicit protections for employees from harassment by third parties, for example customers or clients.”
 
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “We remain disappointed and frustrated that the Government has still not committed to a simple stand-alone offence for assaulting a retail worker, to encourage prosecutions and provide the deterrent effect that our members are desperately looking for. So far we have only heard Ministers’ warm words for our members who far too often face violence, threats and abuse.
 
“It is a step in the right direction that the Government has now signed up to the ILO convention on violence and harassment, but action is required. They have the perfect opportunity to demonstrate their commitment by backing the protection of shopworkers amendments in the Lords today.
 
“When retail employers, leading retail bodies, the Home Affairs Select Committee and the shopworkers’ trade union jointly call for legislation, it is time for the Government to listen.
 
“In Scotland, MSPs voted through a new ground-breaking law to give shopworkers the protection they deserve, which came into force in August. We are now looking for the House of Lords to similarly support key workers across the retail sector, who regularly suffer violence and abuse.”
 
Notes for editors:
 
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with over 380,000 members. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemical industry and other trades.
 
Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill amendments to be moved in committee of the whole House of Lords (protection of workers, pages 18 – 21): https://bills.parliament.uk/publications/42610/documents/651
 
Interim results of the Usdaw’s 2021 survey, based on 3,464 responses, show that: 89.26% were verbally abused, 64.46% were threatened. 21.59% shopworkers had been assaulted during their career. 10.82% had been assaulted this year. Asked “On a scale of 1-10 how confident are you that reporting abuse, threats and violence will make a difference” 46.35% scored less than five out of ten. 7.35% of those who’d been assaulted didn’t report it. The final results of the survey will be published in 2022.
 
Protection of Workers (Retail and Age-restricted Goods and Services) (Scotland) Act 2021: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2021/6
 
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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