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Northern TUC Conference: Usdaw calls for action to tackle the deepening cost of living crisis and respect for shopworkers

Date: 25 March 2022 Retail trade union Usdaw has a delegation attending this year’s Northern Trades Union Congress (TUC) Conference and is calling for action to tackle the deepening cost of living crisis and protection for shopworkers from violence, threats and abuse. The conference takes place on Saturday 26 March 2022 in Newcastle.
Joanne Thomas – Usdaw Regional Secretary says: “Many low-paid key workers, who kept the country going through the pandemic, were already struggling to make ends meet and now find themselves in a cost of living crisis. With food and fuel prices increasing, energy bills soaring and real wages falling, our members need clear action to tackle rising costs. Spiraling household bills are putting many under pressure at a time when real wages are now lower than in 2008. A report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows that poverty has risen steeply in recent years and the North East has one of the highest with 25% now in poverty. Rising energy prices combined with the National Insurance increase in April, will have a devastating impact on families. The Resolution Foundation has calculated that the average household will lose £1,200 during 2022. In a survey of Usdaw members, 70% were already struggling to pay energy bills.

“There has been a significant increase in abuse of shopworkers during the pandemic. Research by Usdaw found that around nine in ten retail workers are now abused for simply doing their job. Women, young and Black workers are disproportionately impacted and often on the receiving end of the worst types of abuse. Retail workers, along with other key workers, made an incredible contribution to ensure we can get through the Coronavirus crisis. These efforts must be recognised. Retail crime must be tackled through raising awareness among the shopping public and ensuring local police forces have proactive strategies in place to deal with the issue.

“We need a New Deal for Workers: a minimum wage of at least £10 per hour immediately, an end to insecure employment. Low-paid working people desperately need substantial action to help them through this cost of living crisis. There must be action to ensure that retail jobs are no longer underpaid and undervalued, which must also include a culture of respect for shopworkers.”

Usdaw calls on the TUC to campaign for:
  • A windfall tax on North Sea oil and gas producers, to fund removing VAT on domestic energy bills, along with expanding and increasing the warm homes discount.
  • Scrapping the planned increase in National Insurance Contributions.
  • An urgent and fundamental overhaul of Universal Credit to ensure it provides a social security benefit that supports low-paid workers.
  • Respect for shopworkers, alongside Usdaw’s ‘Freedom from Fear’ campaign.
  • Police and Crime Commissioners to develop effective strategies to tackle retail crime.
  • Employers to protect shopworkers and enforce zero-tolerance policies in stores.

Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with around 360,000 members. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemical industry and other trades.
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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