Responding to the health and safety debate at Usdaw’s Annual Delegate Meeting in Blackpool’s Winter Gardens, Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary said:
“Health and safety is central to the trade union movement's work. Our reps work hard every day to make workplaces safer, but that work is never done and we must always keep trying, keep improving, and keep protecting our members.
“Knife crime in the UK has seen a drastic increase in recent years and we support the call for stab vests to be provided by law, to all security guards and other public facing employees who are at increased risk of violence at work.
“Nobody should have to risk serious physical assault as part of their everyday job, this is something we as a union are very clear on. Stab vests won't solve the problem of violence against our members, but they may offer some extra protection when the worst happens.
“We would always advocate for the tightening of the law around the sale of knives and with the terrifying growth in knife crime, this is more pressing than ever. Knives should not be left on shelves, but should be behind counters, so that they are more difficult to steal.
“It is absolutely right that there should be greater restrictions on the sale of weapons, but our members are on the frontline of implementing those restrictions and as we know, this can often be a trigger for violence and abuse.
“As part of our Freedom from Fear campaign we have lobbied the Government on the Offensive Weapons Bill. Calling for better protection for shopworkers who are enforcing the law. In November, an Usdaw MP, David Hanson, put forward an amendment to the Offensive Weapons Bill. That would make it a specific offence to assault a shopworker who is enforcing the law. That amendment was supported by the Co-op Party, the Co-op Group, the British Retail Consortium and the Association of Convenience Stores.
“The Government opposed the amendment, arguing that there was no gap in the law, but they did agree to a discussion with us and the employers on this issue. This was a big step forward and as a result the Government has launched a ‘call for evidence’ on violence and abuse towards shop staff. I encourage all shopworkers to tell their story.”
The Government ‘call for evidence’
closes at 11pm on 28 June 2019 and submissions can be made online at: www.homeofficesurveys.homeoffice.gov.uk/s/PVAUE/
is running their own survey, which will feed into the Home Office ‘call for evidence’ and can be completed at: www.usdaw.org.uk/respectsurvey
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.
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news
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