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TUC Young Workers’ Conference 2024: Usdaw seeks to politicly engage young workers in the general election and calls for ‘Freedom From Fear’

Date: 22 March 2024 Retail trade union Usdaw has a delegation of young members and reps attending the Trades Union Congress (TUC) annual Young Workers’ Conference in London, 23 and 24 March. The union is seeking to engage young workers in the upcoming general election to get a better deal on employment rights and pay, along with calling for action to tackle violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers.
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “The latest results from Usdaw’s ‘Freedom From Fear’ survey show alarming levels of violence and abuse. Research has shown that young workers are more likely to work shifts where incidents of violence and abuse are highest and reports show that some customers may in fact target young workers for abuse. As well as traditional flashpoints for incidents, organised crime gangs are increasingly targeting the sector, looting stores and assaulting retail workers; further endangering young workers who are simply just going about their job.
“In 2021, the Scottish Parliament passed the Protection of Workers Act which makes threatening, assaulting or abusing retail workers a specific offence. This has led to 6,000 additional police investigations into retail crime. We remain disappointed that retail workers in the rest of the United Kingdom are not subject to the same legal protection. All retail workers deserve legal protection from abuse, threats and violence and similar legislation should be passed in all parts of the UK.”
Usdaw is calling on the TUC to:
  • Support Usdaw's ‘Freedom from Fear’ campaign, specifically highlighting the disproportionate impact on young workers.
  • Campaign for all retail workers to be given the same protections as those in Scotland.
  • Lobby police forces and Police and Crime Commissioners to ensure that tackling violence and abuse against workers is treated as a priority in all parts of the UK. 
Paddy Lillis continued: “The best way to ensure young workers are fairly represented is to ensure they get involved in politics, register to vote and play an active part in political discussions. The forthcoming general election is an ideal opportunity for more of our young members to engage in politics through the trade union and labour movement. The choice couldn’t be more stark. Labour’s New Deal for Working People will have a transformative effect on the lives of young workers. By contrast, for 14 years the Tories have failed young people.”
Usdaw is calling on the TUC Young Workers Committee to:
  • Support affiliates in registering young workers to vote so that as many people as possible can have their say.
  • Reach out to young members from all unions and encourage them to become politically engaged.
  • Highlight the need for a transformative new deal on employment rights for young workers. 
Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is one of the fastest growing unions in the TUC and 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 www.usdaw.org.uk
Usdaw’s Freedom from Fear Campaign seeks to prevent violence, threats and abuse against workers by engaging the public, shopworkers and the Government.
Protection of Workers (Retail and Age-restricted Goods and Services) (Scotland) Act 2021: www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2021/6
Labour’s New Deal for Working People: https://labour.org.uk/updates/stories/a-new-dealfor-working-people
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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