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Retail employers, including the Co-op Group, join Usdaw in asking MPs to vote for a protection for shopworkers amendment to the Offensive Weapons Bill

Date: 11 October 2018 Shopworkers’ trade union leader Paddy Lillis has welcomed the support of retail employers for New Clause One amendment to the Offensive Weapons Bill, which provides legal protection for shopworkers enforcing the measures in the Bill.
The Co-op Group, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) all joined the union on a lobby Parliament yesterday, ahead of the report stage of the Bill on Monday 15 October.

Also at the lobby was the Co-operative Party, who earlier in the week published a new Populus poll showing overwhelming support for the amendment tabled by David Hanson MP. In the face of more than 260 violent attacks against shopworkers every day, the poll showed that 85% of voters agree that: “The government owes a duty of care to shopworkers who enforce important laws restricting the sale of certain items like alcohol, acid and knives.” They also believe that the best way to deliver this is with: “A tough new law to increase criminal sentences for anyone convicted of using threats or violence against a shopworker.”

Chris Whitfield - Retail Chief Operating Officer for the Co-op Group has now launched a national campaign on preventing violent crime against the company’s retail staff. Briefing Co-op group employees he said: “We’re currently working with Usdaw and MPs to look at the underlying causes of violence against shopworkers and work out how we tackle it together. Please can you show your support for the Usdaw Protection of Shopworkers campaign and encourage your teams to do the same by emailing your MP.”

Figures from the ACS Crime Report show that enforcing an age restricted policy is one of the top three triggers of abuse and violence against people working in convenience stores. ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Convenience store colleagues are on the front line enforcing the law on age restricted products, and should not feel threatened for doing their job.”

The British Retail Consortium gave early support for the a protection of shopworkers amendment, when they gave evidence to the Offensive Weapons Bill committee saying: “We do share the Usdaw view that carrying out an attack on a shop worker in the course of their employment should be a specific offence: either a generalised offence, or one that relates to age checking, but certainly some sort of specific offence.”
 
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “When retail employers, the shopping public and the shopworkers’ trade union agree on a measure to protect staff, we hope that MPs will take notice and support the amendment. At the second reading of the Bill, the Home Secretary recognised that the protection of shopworkers requires further thought and this amendment goes some way to delivering the protection shopworkers need.
 
“Shopworkers will play a vital role on the frontline of policing this new law, as they already do on the sale of alcohol and other age-restricted products. Yet they are offered no additional protection under the law and shopworkers can be treated like criminals if a mistake is made at the point of sale.
 
“This is a much needed Bill that deserves support and we very much welcome it. We have all been appalled by the increase in assaults and deaths when acid and knives were used as offensive weapons. It is absolutely right that we do everything possible to stem the scourge of knife crime and acid attacks.
 
“Shopworkers are on the frontline of achieving that and helping to keep our communities safe. Their role should be valued, they deserve our respect, but most of all they deserve the protection of the law.”
 
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 latest survey results show that two-thirds of shopworkers were verbally abused last year, 42% were threatened and there were over 265 assaults every day. This represents a 25% increase in abuse and assaults and threats are up by 38%.
 
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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