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Wales Retail Consortium and Usdaw jointly campaign for a tougher response for those who assault retail staff

Date: 18 September 2020 Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw and the trade association Wales Retail Consortium (WRC) are both campaigning for better legislation to protect shopworkers from violence.
The WRC has launched a Shopworkers’ Protection Pledge, which has been signed by Members of Parliament (MPs) who support legislation necessary to protect shopworkers. It adds to the fast growing parliamentary petition promoted by Usdaw, which has over 60,000 signatures https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/328621
 
The WRC is asking Welsh MPs and Members of the Senedd (MSs) 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/
 
Nick Ireland – Usdaw Divisional Officer says: “When retailers, the trade union for shopworkers, MPs and MSs 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.
 
“The petition is well on the way to triggering a parliamentary debate, which we need now that the Government has refused to act, and we continue to campaign for the required 100,000 signatures. 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.
 
“We urge the Welsh Government to add their support to shopworkers and retail employers calling 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 across Wales and that role must be valued and respected, they deserve the protection of the law.”
 
Sara Jones, WRC Head of Wales, says: “Every day hard-working retail colleagues across wales 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 and MSs from all parties to come together and sign the Shopworkers’ Protection Pledge.
 
“On behalf of the 130,000 people who work in the retail industry across Wales, their families and their communities, there is one simple message – doing nothing is not an option.”
 
Voices from the frontline of retail in Wales:
  • Mid Wales: “Most customers are fine. I have at least 2 or 3 a day that are rude. Have thrown bank cards and money at me.” – “I had a customer tell me she has the virus and cough in my face.”
  • North Wales: “I've had customers say they've got covid-19 and then cough in my face because they were asked to stand behind a marked line.” – “Been told to f**k off many times, usually after asking for ID, also been robbed at knifepoint.”
  • South Wales: “Customers are totally disrespectful of guidelines and when challenged become abusive.” - “Customers grabbing my arm to verbally abuse me.” - “Pushed, shoved, coughed at and not given any social distancing.”
  • West Wales: “During the final reductions for the day, customers push and shove you out of the way.” - “Being filmed in work and threatened to be posted all over Facebook. Sworn at for refusing a return with no proof of purchase.”
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 WRC’s (Welsh Retail Consortium) mission is to make a positive difference to the industry and its customers. The WRC leads the industry and works to shape and influence debates that will make that positive difference. We care about the careers of people in our industry, the communities retail touches and competitiveness – our 3Cs. The WRC publishes leading indicators on footfall and shop vacancies and our policy positions are informed by our membership and determined by the WRC Committee.
 
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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