The meeting was chaired by Paddy Lillis, Usdaw General Secretary Elect and guest speakers included Daniel Johnson MSP for Edinburgh Southern and Labour Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Jackie Martin, Usdaw rep working in retail.
Paddy Lillis, Usdaw General Secretary Elect said:
“Usdaw members have been tireless in campaigning for greater protection for public-facing workers, like shopworkers, drivers delivering shopping direct to homes, call centre workers and many others.
“Usdaw’s latest survey has reported that violence and abuse against shopworkers is at a 10-year high. 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.
“Shopworkers like Val, from Dunfermline, punched in the face when she asked a known shoplifter, who was already banned from the shop, to leave. Or Tommy from Port Glasgow, kicked and punched by two male customers, who arrived in the store drunk at 4am, when they were refused an alcohol sale.
“Shopworkers are on the frontline of policing the sale of alcohol, knives, glue and acid to mention only a few of the age restricted goods. The Scottish Parliament has given them the responsibility to police those laws, so parliament should provide shopworkers with the necessary protection.
“However the experience of our members is that all too often that those 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.
“Usdaw’s survey suggests that around 34 Scottish shopworkers are physically assaulted every day for just doing their job, so the criminal justice system is either ignoring them or paying little more than lip service to their concerns.
“That is why Usdaw welcomes 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 want MSPs from all parties and the Scottish Government to give Daniel Johnson’s Bill their full support and ensure that shopworkers have the protection they deserve.”
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% 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.
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news
and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion