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Home Office positive about protections for shopworkers, Usdaw now requires action

Date: 11 December 2018 Shopworkers’ trade union leader Paddy Lillis today met with Home Office Minister Victoria Atkins for a round-table discussion with retailers on how to protect staff from violence, threats and abuse.
The Minister agreed to the talks during the report stage of the Offensive Weapons Bill, in response to an amendment tabled by David Hanson MP that would create a new offence if a person attempting to buy corrosive substance or knives abuses, threatens or assaults the retail worker who is enforcing the law.
 
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “We had a positive discussion with the Home Office today and explored how to improve protections for shopworkers who are assaulted, threatened and abused for simply doing their job. The Minister listened and asked to be given time to consider what she had heard. We reserve the right to return to the Offensive Weapons Bill if the Government doesn’t agree to a review of legislation.
 
“Shopworkers are on the frontline of helping to keep our communities safe by enforcing the law on age-restricted sales. Their role should be valued, they deserve our respect, but most of all they deserve the protection of the law. When retail employers, the shopping public and the shopworkers’ trade union agree on a measure to protect staff, it is only right that the Government takes notice.
 
“We need a better balance in the law. The existing offence of common assault is not enough, because it is rarely used and difficult to prove in cases of verbal abuse and threats. A specific offence of obstructing a retail worker who is enforcing the law, which is easily understood by employers, staff, police, judiciary, shoppers and most of all violent criminals is absolutely necessary.”
 
Notes for editors:
 
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with around 430,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 28% over the 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.
 
Usdaw’s annual survey shows a 40% increase in incidents of violence against shopworkers since 2016, with threats and abuse also up significantly. Worryingly the survey revealed that 1 in 6 retail staff who have been assaulted don’t report it, mainly because they don’t think it will make a difference.
 
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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