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Offensive Weapons Bill - Usdaw urges the Government to follow through on promises to protect shopworkers

Date: 19 March 2019 Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw has been campaigning for a protection of shopworkers amendment to the Offensive Weapons Bill, which attracted cross-party support. The Government responded with a round-table discussion with Usdaw and retail employers, which has led to the promise of a ‘call for evidence’ to inform future Government action to protect shopworkers.
The Offensive Weapons Bill, which receives its third reading in the Lords today, aims to help keep knives and corrosives off our streets. Numerous surveys have found that enforcing the law around age-restricted products is a leading trigger for abuse and violence against shopworkers. Usdaw is now seeking action from the Government, as promised, and a report on progress during today’s debate.

Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “We wanted the Government to rebalance the Offensive Weapons Bill and provide protections for retail staff, who will be enforcing the law. That will not happen with this legislation and our members now face additional risks of prosecution because of this Bill, but no commensurate additional protection.

“One major achievement from our campaign is that, for the first time, a Conservative Government has accepted there is an issue to tackled, that now needs to be backed up with action. Following a roundtable meeting that I attended, we have now secured a ‘call for evidence’ and investigation into what can be done to provide better protections for shopworkers, we are still pushing for a firm timetable.

“At report stage the Minister accepted that legislation may be necessary and if so the Government would provide time in Parliament for its passage. We intend to hold the Minister to that and the Government can be assured that we will be providing extensive evidence of the need for legal protections to tackle the scourge of violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers.

“The statistics from our annual survey are shocking, demonstrating the dangers most retail staff face. Shopworkers are on the frontline of helping to keep our communities safe, they have a crucial role that must be valued and respected.”

Usdaw’s 2018 survey reveals shocking statistics showing that incidents of violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers are an increasing problem. During 2018: Nearly two-thirds of shopworkers experienced verbal abuse, over 40% were threatened by a customer and on average over 280 were assaulted every day.

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 420,000 members. Membership has increased by more than one-third over the last couple of decades. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.
 
Results of Usdaw’s 2018 survey, based on 6,725 responses, show that in 2018: 63.82% were verbally abused, 40.35% were threatened. 12.11% of shopworkers had been assaulted during their career, with an average of 283 assaults per day during 2018.
 
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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