Warm words are not enough - Usdaw calls on the Scottish Government to do more to protect shopworkers

Date: 07 November 2017 Shopworkers’ trade union leader John Hannett has today called on the Scottish Government to do more to help protect shopworkers from violence, threats and abuse following a debate in the Scottish Parliament.

The debate, called by Daniel Johnson MSP (Labour - Edinburgh Southern), took place ahead of Respect for Shopworkers’ Week (13-19 November) and attracted cross-party support for Usdaw’s Freedom From Fear Campaign, which seeks to prevent abuse of 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 are not enough to stop or deter the thug who attacks a shopworker; only clear action from the Scottish Government can do that.

“It was regrettable that the Scottish Government has in the past rejected a protection of workers bill and then stopped collecting data on the number of assaults of shopworkers. However, they now have the opportunity to back up their overall support for our campaign by supporting legislation, when Daniel Johnson MSP launches a consultation on a new protection of workers bill. We can see no justification for not protecting shopworkers, who perform 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 fifth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with over 430,000 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.

The full text of the motion debated: “That the Parliament notes that Respect for Shopworkers Week, which is organised by USDAW’s Freedom From Fear campaign, runs from 13 to 19 November 2017; further notes that the week highlights the violence and abuse faced by shopworkers; recognises that the Retail Crime Survey, published in February 2017, concluded that "retail staff continue to suffer unacceptable levels of violence and abuse", rising by 40% since 2015-16; is concerned that alcohol sales and the legal requirement of the Challenge 25 scheme can often act as a trigger-point for the outbreak of violence or abuse against workers, and considers that the abuse experienced by simply doing their job is of continued distress to shopworkers; celebrates the week’s vital role in raising awareness of the violence and abuse faced by shopworkers, and notes calls on both the Scottish and UK governments to act so that all public-facing workers can benefit from further protection from violence, abuse, and threats when at work."

Sign up to the Usdaw Respect Thunderclap to spread the message with your social media contacts at: www.usdaw.org.uk/FFFThunderclap

Results of the Usdaw’s 2016 survey, based on 2,805 responses, show that over the last 12 months 50% were verbally abused and 29% were threatened. 8% have been assaulted, with 32% not reporting the incident. The 2017 survey is currently being compiled.

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