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Government again rejects a new protection of shopworkers law that is supported by Usdaw and many retailers

Date: 24 June 2021 Retail trade union Usdaw is disappointed that the Government has yet again rejected an attempt to provide greater protection for frontline workers by opposing an amendment to their flagship crime bill. Usdaw now hopes that the amendment will come back later in the bill’s passage for a vote of all MPs.
The amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which would have provided a specific offence of assaulting a shopworker, was debated today in committee. Usdaw, retailers and trade bodies are standing together, calling on the Government to accept that legislation is needed to protect the UK’s three million retail workers.
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “We thank Sarah Jones MP for tabling this important amendment and remain deeply disappointed that the Government continues to reject the need to offer shopworkers greater protection. It has been a terrible time 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.
“It is frustrating to hear the Government yet again claim that existing offences and Sentencing Council guidelines are enough when they clearly are not, as the problem continues to grow. Usdaw is looking for a simple stand-alone offence that is easily understood, not just by the legal profession, but by the criminals who are assaulting, threatening and terrifying shopworkers. A separate offence for assaulting a retail worker would encourage prosecutions and provide the deterrent effect that our members are desperately looking for. We need to send a clear message that violence against someone working to serve the public is not acceptable.
“When retail employers, leading retail bodies and the shopworkers’ trade union jointly call for legislation, it is time for the Government to listen. In Scotland, MSPs voted through a new ground-breaking law to give shopworkers the protection they deserve. We hope that this amendment will be brought back at the ‘report stage’ of the bill and we are looking for MPs to support key workers across the retail sector and help turn around the UK Government’s opposition.”
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.
Sarah Jones MP: NC45 amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, “Offence of assaulting etc. retail worker” https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/58-02/0005/amend/police_rm_pbc_0524.pdf
Usdaw’s 2020 survey of 2,729 shopworkers across the UK found that:
• 88% experienced verbal abuse
• 60% were threatened by a customer
• 9% were assaulted
• 79% of shopworkers say abuse was worse last year
The full report can be downloaded from: www.usdaw.org.uk/FFFReport2020
66 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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