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Daniel Johnson MSP and Usdaw continue to pressure the Scottish Government to protect shopworkers

Date: 06 April 2020 Shopworkers trade union Usdaw met with Business Minister Jamie Hepburn MSP last week to press the case for shopworker protection. Today, Daniel Johnson MSP (Labour, Edinburgh Southern) has written to the Cabinet Secretary for Justice to discuss how his proposed Protection of Retail Workers Bill offers an opportunity to support the retail sector in the current COVID-19 outbreak.
Daniel Johnson’s bill would protect retail workers from threats and abuse and is currently being scrutinised by the Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee at Stage 1 in the legislative scrutiny process.

Daniel Johnson MSP said: “COVID-19 has placed our retail workers on the front line of the crisis and my bill would provide them with the protection they deserve. What this ongoing emergency has clearly shown us all is how much we depend on the professionalism and hard work of our retail sector. Retail workers are being asked to handle panic buying and increased customers which has exacerbated the confrontational situations faced by retail workers that led to my introducing the bill in the first place.”

“Their classification as key workers has also meant they are now in effect carrying out a public health function, enforcing social distancing measures in stores, along with the critical role they have in the food supply chain.”

“At such a demanding time retail workers have stepped up to the plate and they deserve our thanks, but more than that they deserve our protection. I hope the Scottish Government think seriously about my proposal, given the lack of time they have to introduce the necessary protections.”

Stewart Forrest – Usdaw’s Scottish Divisional Officer said: “Throughout the Coronavirus outbreak, and the panic buying which has surrounded it, shopworkers have been on the front line, ensuring that Scotland remains fed. It is clear that, with the number of customers in store, shopworkers are at an increased risk of developing an infection yet they have continued to go to work and help respond to the crisis sweeping the nation.

“Despite this key role, we have seen a significant increase in abuse, threats and violence against shop staff. In addition to established trigger points for abuse, threats and violence, such as age-related sales and restrictions on alcohol serving times, the Covid-19 outbreak has led to a significant increase in abuse against shopworkers as a result of long-queueing times, lack of availability of products and limits on the number of products one individual can buy.

“The current crisis has highlighted the fact that the current legal provisions are not fit for purpose. Usdaw is calling on the Scottish Government to clearly support Daniel Johnson’s Protection of Workers’ Bill currently going through the Scottish Parliament”.

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.
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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The official website of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers