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Usdaw renews calls for legislation to protect staff after abuse against shopworker worsens during the pandemic

Date: 14 April 2021 Retail trade union Usdaw is today giving evidence to the influential Home Affairs Select Committee outlining the need for legislation to protect retail staff.
Usdaw’s 2020 survey of 2,729 staff across the UK found that:
  • 88% experienced verbal abuse
  • 60% were threatened by a customer
  • 9% were assaulted

Late last year, the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee launched an inquiry into the issue the day after Usdaw secured over 100,000 signatures on a ‘protect shopworkers’ petition.

In January, the Scottish Parliament unanimously voted for a ground-breaking new law to protect shopworkers. Usdaw campaigned for many years to secure these legal protections.

However, the UK Government has persistently opposed new legislation, offering little more than sympathy and objecting to the Alex Norris protection of shopworkers bill in the House of Commons. In February, 66 senior retail leaders wrote to the Prime Minister urging the UK Government to create a new statutory offence of assaulting, threatening, or abusing a retail worker.

Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “The results from our latest survey clearly show the scale of the appalling abuse, threats and violence faced by retail workers. These results were recently backed up by a similar survey conducted by the Association of Convenience Stores.

“It has been a terrible year for our members with almost 90% of shopworkers suffering abuse, two-thirds threatened and nearly one in ten assaulted. Retail workers, their friends, family and loved ones, are saying loud and clear that enough is enough, abuse should never be just a part of the job.

“Last year, over 100,000 people signed Usdaw’s petition calling for specific legislation to protect retail workers. We are pleased to have the opportunity to make the case to the select committee today and look forward to their report in due course.”

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.

Protection of Workers (Retail and Age-restricted Goods and Services) (Scotland) Bill:

Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry:
Usdaw submission: www.usdaw.org.uk/HASCresponse

Assaults on Retail Workers (Offences) Bill promoted by Alex Norris MP (Labour/Co-op, Nottingham North) was timetabled for its second reading in the House of Commons, but the Government objected and it is now delayed. https://bills.parliament.uk/bills/2725

66 senior retail leaders wrote to the Prime Minister: https://brc.org.uk/media/676908/pm-ceo-crime-letter-feb-2021.pdf
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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