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Usdaw calls on the Scottish Government to do more to protect shopworkers

Date: 18 November 2015 Shopworkers’ trade union leader John Hannett has today written to Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs in the Scottish Government following a debate in the Scottish Parliament.
The debate, called by Cara Hilton MSP (Labour - Dunfermline), took place during Respect for Shopworkers’ Week and attracted cross-party support for Usdaw’s Freedom From Fear Campaign, which seeks to prevent violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers.

John Hannett – Usdaw General Secretary says: “Our members appreciate the support of MSPs for our Freedom from Fear campaign, which highlights the abuse experienced by shopworkers while simply doing their job. I was pleased that the Scottish Government recognises the important contribution Usdaw makes to promote the safety of workers. However, warm words and sympathy isn’t enough to stop or deter the thug who attacks a shopworker; only clear action from the Scottish Government can do that.

“The Scottish Government no longer records assaults of shopworkers or other public-facing workers, which concerns me because we believe that incidents of violence at work are increasing at a time when overall violent crime is falling. So I have called on the Scottish Government to commit to once again record incidents of violence at work when they review the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey.

“That survey evidence is a crucial part of the case to extend existing protections for emergency service workers, doctors and nurses to all public facing workers. It is regrettable that the Scottish Government has in the past rejected a protection of workers bill, promoted by Hugh Henry MSP, and then stopped collecting data on the number of assaults. However, they now have the opportunity to back up their overall support for our campaign by specifically taking another look at protection of workers legislation. We can see no justification for not protecting shopworkers, who peform an important role in our communities and have a legal responsibility to enforce the law on age-related sales.

“Our survey of shopworkers shows that every minute of every day another shopworker is assaulted, threatened or abused. This must not continue and we call on the political parties in Holyrood to come together and act to improve the safety of all public-facing workers.”

Notes for editors:

Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fourth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with over 440,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 17% in the last five years and by nearly a third in the last decade. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the Union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.

Respect for Shopworkers Week is the annual campaign week and part of Usdaw’s Freedom from Fear Campaign. This year it is 9-13 November when shopworkers across the country are organising events to raise awareness with the public about what life is like on the frontline of working in retail.

Interim results of Usdaw’s Freedom From Fear Survey: The survey was conducted in face-to-face interviews of 2,536 shopworkers by Usdaw reps who asked them to talk about their experiences at work over the last twelve months.
How often have you been a victim of verbal abuse?
1-3 times 33%, Monthly 8%, Weekly 8%, Daily 3% Total abused 52%
How often have you been threatened by a customer?

1-3 times 24%, Monthly 4%, Weekly 1.5%, Daily 0.5% Total threatened 30%
9% have been a victim of physical violence from customers, 2.13% in the last twelve months.

For Usdaw press releases visit: www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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The official website of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers