It has now been over a year since the Home Office consultation on violence against shopworkers closed. Usdaw surveying estimates that over 150,000 shop workers have been assaulted since then. Usdaw responded, along with a broad range of retailers, calling for a new law to tackle this growing problem. The Government has only responded today to the overwhelming evidence they received and rejected extending the law to protect retail staff.
Call for Evidence – Violence and Abuse Toward Shop Staff - Government Response: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/violence-and-abuse-toward-shop-staff-call-for-evidence
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says:
“We are deeply disappointed that the Government has rejected legislating for stiffer penalties for those who assault workers. They have failed to listen to the voices of shop workers and retailers, who had jointly called for a simple stand-alone offence that is widely recognised and understood by the public, police, CPS, the judiciary and most importantly criminals.
“Retail staff have a crucial role in our communities and that role must be valued and respected, they deserve the protection of the law. We are shocked that violence, threats and abuse have doubled during this national emergency. At a time when we should all be working together to get through this crisis, it is a disgrace that the people working to keep food on the shelves for their local communities are being abused and assaulted.
“Our message is clear, abuse is not part of the job. Life on the frontline of retail is normally pretty tough for many shopworkers and has become much worse during the coronavirus emergency. Shopworkers are on the frontline of feeding the country, providing an essential service in very difficult circumstances, working long hours in busy stores, facing abuse from customers and of course concerned they may contract Covid-19.
“The safety of our members is absolutely paramount, but they tell us that some of the shopping public are resisting social distancing measures in stores and can become abusive when asked to queue and maintain social distancing. Our message to the public is there is no excuse for abusing shopworkers and they deserve to be respected and appreciated.”
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.
Results of Usdaw’s Coronavirus survey
, based on 4,928 responses from shopworkers across the UK, shows that between 14 March and 17 April 2020: 62.28% were verbally abused, 29.07% were threatened, 4.01% assaulted. When extrapolated over circa 3,000,000 retail workers, this amounts to over 3,538 assaults per day. Usdaw believes this is an underestimation because the survey analysis assumes each respondent was only assaulted once and it was conducted in mainly larger trade union organised stores, which tend to be safer than smaller non-unionised workplaces.
Usdaw’s consultation response: www.usdaw.org.uk/UsdawEvidence
Usdaw’s call for Government action has been backed by retailers and their representative organisations. A joint letter to the Home Secretary and other Ministers recommends:
- Tougher sentences for those who attack shopworkers.
- Change to the out of court disposals system (eg fixed penalty notices) which is failing to have an impact on reoffending.
- A full review into the response of police forces to incidents of violence in the retail sector.
The full letter can be viewed at: www.usdaw.org.uk/RetailViolenceLetter
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news
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