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Scotland's retailers join with Usdaw to back the Protection of Workers (Scotland) Bill

Date: 06 December 2010 The shopworkers Union Usdaw has welcomed the decision by The Co-operative Group, Scotmid Co-operative Society and the Scottish Grocers' Federation to support the Protection of Workers (Scotland) Bill.

The Bill, which is being steered through the Scottish Parliament by Labour MSP Hugh Henry, will give shopworkers and other public facing staff the same level of protection given to emergency workers who are assaulted while doing their jobs. If passed, the Bill would make it clear that it is an offence to assault a shopworker while at work or as a result of them doing their job. MSPs are first due to vote on the Bill within the next few weeks.

John Hannett, Usdaw General Secretary said:

"Usdaw strongly supports the Protection of Workers (Scotland) Bill and I am extremely pleased that Scotland's retailers are joining us in urging MSPs to support it at the stage one vote. Last year, over a million shopworkers were assaulted, threatened or abused while doing their job and the problem is far too important to be rejected by MSPs at the first hurdle."

"Usdaw's Freedom From Fear Campaign has received considerable support from MSPs of all parties and they have shown a great deal of sympathy and understanding for the problems our members face. However, it is now time to act by giving Hugh Henry's Bill the opportunity of further scrutiny at stage two. The Parliament must not turn its back on the 80% of Scottish workers who face the daily threat of violence by just doing their job."

"MSPs have a unique opportunity to declare Scotland intolerant of violence against all workers and I hope they will at least give this important issue further consideration."

John Drummond, Chief Executive of the Scottish Grocers' Federation said:

"Sadly many shopworkers expect to be subjected to verbal and physical violence in the course of their work. This is simply not good enough. The measures in the Protection of Workers (Scotland) Bill would send out a strong message to those that fail to respect shopworkers and the valuable service they provide that unacceptable behaviour will be punished."

Malcolm Brown, Head of Corporate Communications at Scotmid Co-operative Society said:

"Many violent incidents against our staff result from them asking for proof of age ID or refusing the sale of an age-restricted product such as alcohol or cigarettes. MSPs need to understand that shopworkers are on the frontline when it comes to policing age-restricted sales. As a responsible retailer, we support the Scottish Government's attempt to reduce under-age sales, however they must also make sure the law protects and supports our frontline colleagues."

Steve Hogarth, Regional Manager at The Co-operative Group said:

"The Co-operative Group is urging all MSPs to support the Bill at the stage one vote as this is quite clearly an issue worthy of further consideration by the Parliament. The Co-operative takes violence and abuse against its staff extremely seriously and we hope all MSPs will do likewise."

Hugh Henry MSP said:

"MSPs of all parties have decided to toughen the law on alcohol and nicotine and MSPs expect shopworkers to play their part in ensuring that drunk people are not served and that children do not get served."

"This will put pressure on shopworkers and it's right that we play fair by them and ensure that they get the protection they deserve.

"It's only right that if we expect workers to go that extra mile that we go the extra mile for them."

"I would ask MSPs to think carefully about the proposals in the Protection of Workers (Scotland) Bill and urge them to get behind the Bill and show that they support shopworkers who we expect so much from in helping tackle many of Scotland's public health problems."

Notes for Editors:

  1. For further information on the Protection of Workers (Scotland) Bill visit: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/s3/bills/47-ProtectWorkers/index.htm
  2. Usdaw's annual Freedom From Fear survey revealed that over a million shopworkers were assaulted, threatened or abused in the past year. The survey showed that 6% of shopworkers were subjected to violent attack, 37% were threatened with harm and a massive 70% had suffered verbal abuse. For further information on Usdaw's Freedom From Fear Campaign visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/ourcampaigns/freedomfromfear.aspx
  3. Usdaw (the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fourth biggest Trade Union, with over 395,000 members. Usdaw is the country's fastest growing Trade Union; membership has increased by more than 15% in the last four years and by over a quarter in the last decade. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the Union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.
  4. The Scottish Grocers' Federation (SGF) is the trade association for the Scottish Convenience Store Sector. It is the authoritative voice for the trade to both policy makers and the media. The SGF brings together retailers throughout Scotland, from most of the Scottish Co-operatives, SPAR, Nisa, Keystore, Costcutter and local independents. SGF members sell a wide selection of products and services throughout local town centre, rural and community stores. According to recent statistics (2007) there are just over 5,600 convenience stores throughout Scotland, with annual sales in excess of £3.2 billion. SGF promotes responsible community retailing and works with the Government and the media to encourage a greater understanding of the contribution convenience retailers make to Scotland's communities.


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