Speaking online at the TUC’s annual congress, Jane Jones – Usdaw President said:
“Retail workers have had 18 months like no other, working so hard to keep the nation fed. The pandemic has shown just how severe the challenges are for so many working people across the country. The crisis has demonstrated a UK labour market defined by low pay, insecure work and in-work poverty. Where employment practices, such as zero hours and short hours contracts are damaging mental health and wellbeing.
“Union reps are working hard to address these deep rooted inequalities which were holding back many working people long before the virus. More than ever in this last 18 months, unions have supported key workers on the frontline. Making sure safety measures are put in place and followed. Supporting vulnerable workers, pregnant women and all those who were struggling to cope with the stresses and strains of working through a pandemic. Protecting our members in the workplace is not just about keeping them physically safe, it's about supporting their mental health too.
“Sadly retail workers, like many other key and essential workers have been underpaid and undervalued for too long. They have faced an appalling increase in abuse during the pandemic and all of this has an ongoing impact on their mental health and wellbeing. In the public sector or the private sector, it is not acceptable that workers are left worrying about insecure work and poverty pay. It is not acceptable that workers across many key sectors are facing abuse on a daily basis, while trying to do their jobs and keep the public safe.
“It is clear that we urgently need an economic plan that delivers real changes for working people. A plan that invests in our vital public services, including the mental health support that is so desperately needed. We need a plan for decent pay and secure work with good terms and conditions, including decent sick pay so people can take time off when ill, a plan that gives all working people the respect and dignity they rightly deserve.”
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.
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news
and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion