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Nearly 9 in 10 shopworkers abused last year - Usdaw urges MSPs to back a new law to protect Scottish retail staff

Date: 18 January 2021 Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw has today released new figures showing the extent of abuse retail staff suffered last year, ahead of tomorrow’s final vote in the Scottish Parliament on ground-breaking legislation to protect retail staff.
Usdaw’s 2020 survey of 2,729 shopworkers across the UK found that:
  • 88% experienced verbal abuse,
  • 61% were threatened by a customer,
  • 9% were assaulted. 
The Protection of Workers (Retail and Age-restricted Goods and Services) (Scotland) Bill will make it a specific offence to abuse, threaten or assault a shopworker. It is promoted by Daniel Johnson MSP and timetabled for its third and final stage in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday 19 January 2021.
Stewart Forrest, Usdaw Divisional Officer says, “We congratulate Daniel Johnson MSP for the work he has done on behalf of our members and retail workers across Scotland by getting this Bill to its final stage in the Scottish Parliament. We urge MSPs to support this ground-breaking new law.
“Shopworkers have been on the frontline throughout the coronavirus crisis, helping to ensure our communities remain fed, despite the risks of contracting the virus. The latest stats we have released today clearly show the scale of abuse they have endured and the need for a change in the law.
“This is a hugely important issue for our members and their local communities. Shopworkers 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.”
Voices from the frontline: Some of the comments Scottish shopworkers shared when responding to Usdaw’s survey:
  • “Shouting, being dismissed, being spoken down to. Treated like scum.”
  • “We deal with everything - threatened to be stabbed after work, family threatened, grabbed by the neck and pushed against the wall.”
  • “Pandemic has brought out the worst behaviour in many people. Verbal abuse for limiting items during lockdown, making people queue and most for mask wearing.”
  • “Varies from comments such as stupid bitch, jobsworth, being told to f*** off or shut up.”
  • “Always about alcohol. The refusal to sell to an intoxicated person or when asking for age identification.” 
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “It is heart-breaking to hear these testimonies from Scottish shopworkers who deserve far more respect than they receive. By passing this Bill, the Scottish Parliament will be leading the way on protection of shopworkers. Retail staff are key workers delivering essential services and we hope MSPs will support them in tomorrow’s vote.”
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:
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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