Usdaw welcomes a cross-party attempt to protect shopworkers from violence, threats and abuse

Date: 12 October 2017 Shopworkers’ trade union leader John Hannett has welcomed an early day motion, with cross-party support, calling on the Government to introduce legislation providing an additional penalty for those who assault workers in the course of their duties
John Hannett – Usdaw General Secretary says: “Often shopworkers are expected to enforce the law, whether that is preventing under-age purchases of products like knives, tobacco or alcohol, or detaining shoplifters until the police arrive, they can be put in real danger. Parliament has given shopworkers the duty to enforce the law, so Parliament should provide the necessary protection.

“I have been shocked by the leniency of some of the sentences for assault of workers. Around 200 shopworkers are assaulted every day and it is time to say enough is enough.

“We have been very disappointed that the Government has on five occasions blocked Labour attempts to provided stiffer sentences for those who assault workers. Unfortunately the Government’s record on tackling retail crime shows that since 2010 there are 20,000 fewer police and a steady increase in shoplifting rising 8% this year, but the number of shop thieves going to court dropping by a quarter. The Government must act to address these issues and act quickly.

“Usdaw members welcome the support of MPs for a change in the law to ensure that proper punishments are given out. We must give a clear message that assaulting workers who are serving the public is totally unacceptable.”

Examples of lenient sentences given to assailants of workers selling alcohol
 
A shopworker working at a till refused to serve a customer alcohol.  The customer swore and shouted at her and she called her manager for assistance.  The store manager agreed the customer was too drunk to serve and asked the customer to leave the shop.  He refused to leave.  Whilst staff were trying to escort him out of the shop he kicked and punched 3 members of staff.  He also spat in the face of the store manager.  The police were called and he was given a police caution.
 
A thug, given a suspended sentence for assault, who goes out to celebrate his 'lenient' sentence and launches a vile racist attack on a woman shopworker, assaults her in front of her children by pulling out chunks of her hair and walks free from court again.
 
A man grabbed a shopworker and pushed him back against a window. He then walked off shouting that he was going to ‘get him’. In court he was told his suspended sentence for a previous offence would not be activated.
 
A shopworker was punched on the jaw when she asked a persistent shoplifter to leave, because they’d been barred from the store. The shopworker gave a statement and the police saw the CCTV footage. The attacker was arrested but nothing more has happened.

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

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.

EDM 384 - USDAW FREEDOM FROM FEAR CAMPAIGN: That this House applauds the members and representatives of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers for their Freedom From Fear campaign, which seeks to bring together employers, the police and local authorities to tackle the scourge of violence, threats and abuse against public-facing workers; further applauds the work of all trade unions in running campaigns that seek to protect their members at work; is appalled that public-facing workers are assaulted, threatened or abused; and calls on the Government to recognise the need to extend provisions in law to support the protection of shop workers by imposing an additional penalty for those who assault workers in the course of their duties. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2017-19/384

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.

Respect for Shopworkers Week 2017 takes place on 13-19 November. It is an annual event where shopworkers talk to the public about the problems of violence threats and abuse, asking customers to ‘keep their cool’. Part of the campaign will be encouraging shopworkers not to take abuse as part of the job and report incidents to their manager.

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

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