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Shopworkers' Protection Pledge backed by Usdaw - MPs urged to support tougher action on assaults of retail staff

Date: 02 September 2020 Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw is supporting a campaign by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) to improve legislation to protect shopworkers from violence. The BRC has today launched a Shopworkers’ Protection Pledge, which has been signed by MPs who support legislation necessary to protect shopworkers.
It adds to the fast growing parliamentary petition launched by shopworkers’ trade union leader Paddy Lillis, which has over 58,000 signatures and can be signed at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/328621 Usdaw continues to campaign for 100,000 signatures that should trigger a parliamentary debate.
 
The petition promoted by Usdaw is backed by the UK’s largest convenience store retailer Co-op Food, along with the industry’s leading trade bodies the British Retail Consortium and the Association of Convenience Stores.
 
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “We are grateful to the employers for supporting our petition and welcome today’s BRC initiative. When retailers, the trade union for shopworkers and MPs from across the parties unite in a call for action, it should be time for the Government to sit up, listen to our concerns and deliver much needed protection for staff.
 
“We are delighted that the petition has already passed the halfway point of triggering a parliamentary debate. It is no surprise, because this is a hugely important issue for our members. With incidents of abuse doubling during the Covid-19 crisis, they are saying loud and clear that enough is enough, abuse should never be just a part of the job.
 
“I urge the Government to respond positively, listen to the voices of shopworkers and employers and commit to legislating for stiffer penalties for those who assault workers. With incidents of abuse doubling during the Covid-19 crisis, we are saying loud and clear that enough is enough, abuse should never be just a part of the job.
 
“Retail staff have a crucial role in our communities and that role must be valued and respected, they deserve the protection of the law.”
 
Chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “Every day, hundreds of hard-working retail colleagues are subjected to violence or abuse in their place of work. These incidents can leave physical and emotional scars, and affect not only the victim, but also their families, colleagues, and communities.
 
“Sadly, the legislation meant to protect these workers is not fit for purpose, and many of these heinous crimes continue to go unpunished. These incidents have multiplied during the pandemic, which is why we are now calling on MPs from all parties to come together and sign the Shopworkers’ Protection Pledge.
 
“On behalf of the three million people who work in retail, their families, and their communities, there is one simple message – doing nothing is not an option.”
 
Notes for editors:
 
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with over 400,000 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.
 
The British Retail Consortium are asking MPs to pledge to recognise the serious impact that violence and abuse has on shopworkers and the local communities they serve and stand with retail workers to support legislation to better protect them by visiting: http://brc.org.uk/news/corporate-affairs/shopworkers-protection-pledge/
 
Results of Usdaw’s Coronavirus survey, based on 4,928 responses from shopworkers across the UK, shows that between 14 March and 17 April 2020: 62.28% were verbally abused, 29.07% were threatened, 4.01% assaulted. When extrapolated over circa 3,000,000 retail workers, this amounts to over 3,538 assaults per day. Usdaw believes this is an underestimation because the survey analysis assumes each respondent was only assaulted once and it was conducted in mainly larger trade union organised stores, which tend to be safer than smaller non-unionised workplaces.

For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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