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Respect shopworkers, support retail and give the workforce a voice says Usdaw as the Stormont Executive announces new Covid restrictions

Date: 15 October 2020 Retail trade union Usdaw has called on customers to respect shopworkers after the Northern Ireland First Minister announced the closure of the hospitality sector, with off-licences and supermarkets not allowed to sell alcohol after 8pm, for four weeks from Friday.
The union is also calling for support for retail businesses that fall into difficulties due to reduced footfall and a voice for shopworkers in the Executive’s discussions with the sector.

Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “We support measures that will help stop the spread of Covid-19 and in light of rising infections we understand why the Stormont Executive has moved to tighter restrictions. This is an appalling pandemic and we all have to work together to get through.

“The sale of alcohol has always been a flashpoint for violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers, whether it’s policing age identification, refusing service to drunk customers or dealing with anti-social behaviour. However, more problems can occur when the shop is open, but the alcohol aisles are closed.

“So we want customers to understand that shop staff have no leeway on the 8pm curfew. They cannot be persuaded, threatened or abused to break the law. Even if they were minded to break the law, electronic tills won’t allow them to make the sale. So we are asking the public to please keep your cool and follow the rule.

“While we understand customers might get frustrated, we urge them not to take it out on retail staff. They are key workers, delivering the essential service of keeping us fed through the crisis. Shopworkers deserve respect and abuse should never be just a part of the job.”

“We share the concerns of Retail NI about the potential impact of the closure of hospitality on the retail sector. There needs to be help for businesses who aren’t forced to close but will suffer due to reduced footfall. The Executive has said that they will be engaging with the retail sector and we urge them to include us in those discussions so that we can ensure that workers’ voices are heard.”

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 further information please contact Usdaw’s Media Officer, David Williams on: 0161 249 2469, 07798 696 603 or by e-mail to [email protected]

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

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