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Retail employers and Usdaw to meet with the Home Office about legal protections for shopworkers

Date: 10 December 2018 Shopworkers’ trade union leader Paddy Lillis is meeting with Home Office Minister Victoria Atkins tomorrow for a round-table discussion with retailers on how to legally 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 look forward to productive discussions with the Home Office tomorrow, as we explore legal protections for shopworkers that are assaulted, threatened and abused for simply doing their job.
 
“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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