Usdaw calls on MPs to back the Protection of Workers Bill

Date: 1 February 2013

A private members' bill, promoted by Graeme Morrice MP, will create an additional penalty for those who assault workers in the course of their duties. The bill is due a second reading today in Parliament.

Usdaw is making the call for support on the back of its annual survey that shows high levels of violence threats and abuse in 2012. The survey of almost 2,000 shopworkers shows that in the last twelve months:

  • 61% were verbally abused.
  • 36% had been threatened.
  • 4% suffered a physical assault.

Overall these figures are a slight decrease on past surveys, which follows the trend of the British Retail Consortium's Annual Retail Crime Survey released last week. However, the levels of violence, threats and abuse are much higher than reported by the BRC.

John Hannett said: "The BRC rightly raised the problem of under-reporting in their report and we share that concern. All too often shopworkers don't report to their manager when they have been verbally abused, threatened and in many cases even assaulted, which is why our survey shows much higher levels of incidents.

"Also all too often shopworkers think that violence, threats and abuse are just a part of the job and we want to work with retail companies to encourage employees not to suffer in silence. It is only when we know the true extent of the problem that action will be taken.

"While I am pleased to see the number of incidents falling, there are still far too many attacks on shopworkers who are simply doing their job. Our survey suggests that there were over 100,000 assaults against shopworkers last year, which is a frightening statistic. We want MPs to remember that when considering the Protection of Workers Bill today.

"This is an important Bill that will send out a message to those who assault shopworkers. We saw the number of incidents against fire and ambulance crews fall significantly after the introduction of the Emergency Service Workers Bill. We want to see those protections extended to all public facing workers to help reduce the number of violent incidents they are subjected to, simply for doing their job and providing a public service.

"So Usdaw is calling on MPs to support the Bill and on the Government to give it some parliamentary time to help it onto the Statute Book."

Notes for editors:

  1. Usdaw (the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fourth biggest and fastest growing trade union with over 424,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 17% in the last five years and by nearly a third 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.