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Protection of Workers Bill launched by Daniel Johnson MSP with support of Usdaw and retailers

Date: 22 January 2018 Labour MSP Daniel Johnson has today launched his proposal for a new law to protect workers. Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw and businesses are supporting the change, with the consultation launched today at a Scotmid store in Edinburgh.
The proposed bill comes after it was revealed last month that violence and abuse against shopworkers is at 10-year high. The Bill would create new offences regarding the assault of shopworkers and others, like bar and pub staff, who are involved in the sale and supply of age-restricted good and services.
John Hannett – Usdaw General Secretary says: “All too often criminals who assault staff are not even sent to court, those who are can receive derisory sentences. In other cases, where the offender isn’t even charged, victims are left feeling that no one cares that they were assaulted. So our members very much welcome Daniel Johnson’s bid to provide stiffer penalties for those who assault workers; a simple stand-alone offence that is widely recognised and understood by the public, police, the judiciary and most importantly criminals. We hope that MSPs from all parties and the Scottish Government will give this Bill their full support.
“Shopworkers are on the frontline of policing the law on the sale of alcohol, knives, glue and acid. Parliament has given them the responsibility to police those laws, so parliament should provide shopworkers with the necessary protection. Retail staff have a crucial role in our communities and that role must be valued and respected.”
Stewart Forrest – Usdaw’s Scottish Divisional Officer said: “Many Scottish shopworkers are on the frontline of dealing with the public and that can mean they end up on the wrong side of a verbal or physical assault. Violence, threats and abuse against workers is one of the great scourges of our society. The statistics are shocking and show that urgent action is required.
“Usdaw’s Freedom From Fear Survey shows that in Scotland 70% of shopworkers were verbally abused and 42% were threatened over the last 12 months. 5% were assaulted over the last year, which is around 34 Scottish shopworkers physically attacked every day.”
Daniel Johnson MSP, Labour Edinburgh Southern, said: “Today, I am pleased to be launching the consultation for a bill which will provide additional protection to workers. The issue of violence and abuse against workers continues to grow, and many workers have told me that they now see it as just part of the job. My bill aims to provide legislative solutions, by creating new offences for those who assault or abuse workers.
“I would encourage anyone who can to contribute to the consultation at www.notpartofthejob.com and have their say on how we can protect workers.
“I am delighted that the proposal has the support of both Usdaw and the Scottish Grocers Federation, and I want to thank them for their support in getting to this stage. As the bill makes its way through the Parliamentary process, I hope that breadth of support continues.”
Scottish Grocers’ Federation chief executive Pete Cheema said: “Daniel’s proposed legislation represents a unique – perhaps a once-in-a-generation – opportunity to create a safer retail environment for staff and customers. We are delighted to be supporting the consultation and would urge businesses, trade associations and communities to respond positively to it.”
Jim McFedries, Scotmid Co-operative’s Head of Profit Protection, said: “As a community convenience retailer with a sizeable presence across Scotland, Scotmid would welcome the introduction of new legislation to protect our colleagues from violence and abuse.
“Unfortunately incidents of this nature happen on an alarmingly frequent basis, so anything that can help eliminate this type of behaviour is a progressive step.
“We strongly believe our staff should not be subjected to violence or anti-social behaviour when adhering to legal requirements while selling age-restricted goods and simply doing their jobs.”
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 28% 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.
Interim results of the Usdaw’s 2017 survey from Scottish shopworkers, based on 339 responses, show that over the last 12 months: 70.8% were verbally abused, 42.43% were threatened and 5.01% were assaulted. The final results of the 2017 survey will be published in the New Year.
For Usdaw press releases visit: www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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