Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says:
“I really welcome this event and the Co-op’s commitment to take seriously the safety of Co-op colleagues.
“Abuse and violence in the workplace is a huge area of concern for the union. That’s why we launched our Freedom From Fear campaign 15 years ago. As part of the campaign, each year we survey thousands of shopworkers on their experience of violence and abuse against shop staff.
“Over the past year, nearly two-thirds of shopworkers were verbally abused, 40% were threatened and around 250 were assaulted every day. Unfortunately, the results have been remarkably consistent over the last 10 years.
“For our members working in retail, the focal point of the campaign is ‘Respect for Shopworkers Week’ in November. Last year there were almost a thousand different events across the country. Respect Week gives the union the opportunity, at this key time of the year, to put out the message that ‘abuse is not part of the job’.
“We need greater legal protection to deliver justice for workers who are assaulted while simply going about their jobs. We want to see the assault of a public-facing worker made a standalone offence as a signal of how serious the issue is, to act as a deterrent and to make it easier to bring prosecutions.
“We are working closely with David Hanson MP to amend the Offensive Weapons Bill. The amendment would deliver extra legal protection for the shopworkers who are expected to oversee and implement the underage sales restrictions. In Scotland, we are also campaigning to support the Protection of Workers Bill proposed by Daniel Johnson MSP.
“Both the Co-op and Usdaw recognise that violence and abuse of shopworkers is unacceptable and a serious problem. And I really welcome your strong statement that ‘nothing is more important than protecting our colleagues now and in the future.
“By working together, we can deliver real change both in Co-op shops and in the legal framework to protect workers.”
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.
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news
and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion