The event will be attended by Paddy Lillis, Daniel Johnson MSP, Anas Sarwar MSP, and representatives of the Co-op Group.
Since 2002, Usdaw’s Freedom From Fear Campaign has been working hard to highlight the violence, threats and abuse retail workers experience every day. Despite the heroic efforts of retail workers and delivery drivers during the pandemic, the crisis resulted in a significant and disturbing increase in abuse, threats and violence towards retail workers.
Paddy Lillis, Usdaw General Secretary, said: “The Protection of Workers (Scotland) Act that Daniel Johnson MSP steered through the Scottish Parliament is a significant step forward for our members and our campaign.
“The new law came about as a result of significant campaigning by Usdaw, Scottish Labour, the Co-op, and a broad coalition of other supporters. From this point, across Scotland, it will become a specific offence to abuse, threaten or assault a retail worker, sending a clear message that abuse is not part of the job.
“As well as working with employers to highlight the new provisions, the union has also organised an additional campaign week from 22-29 August to raise awareness and urge shopworkers to ‘report it to sort it’.
“Although we welcome the new law in Scotland, we are deeply disappointed that the UK Government has continued to resist similar measures in the rest of the UK. We will continue to lobby the Government and fight for the safety of our members.”
Daniel Johnson MSP, sponsor of the Protection of Workers (Scotland) Act, said: “My Protection of Workers Act coming into law today is a victory for retail, its staff and customers.”
“For too long retail workers have not been given the same protections as those in every other sector and the cases of abuse and assault just kept increasing throughout the covid pandemic.
“I aim to continue the fight to ensure my bill is properly enforced and would like to take the opportunity to thank Usdaw, the Co-Operative party and all other stakeholders for working with me from the very beginning of this process. “I’ll now work towards a future where this type of legislation is introduced across all nations of the UK. Abuse and assault of retail workers is a blight on all home nations and I look forward to working with colleagues in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in making this protection a reality for all.”
Anas Sarwar MSP, Leader of Scottish Labour, said: “It’s a delight to see Daniel’s bill made law and is testament to his hard work and that of unions like Usdaw and the Co-Operative party in righting this injustice.
“Given all that retail workers do for us and especially the extra mile they went during lockdown in keeping us all fed, it's only right that they receive the protections they deserve.
“While this is a victory in Scotland, it’s now time to pass on the torch and support our wider Labour movement make it a reality across the whole UK so retail workers will be properly protected.”
Paul Gerrard, Co-op’s Director of Campaigns and Public Affairs, said: “We applaud the new legislation in Scotland. Co-op has long supported the new bill, it sends a loud and clear message that criminal behaviour – violence and abuse against shopworkers – will not be tolerated.
“Furthermore, it lets frontline colleagues know they have been listened to and, taken seriously. Shopworkers should not have to go to work and face the unprecedented levels of violence, abuse and anti-social behaviour that we see. Especially in the context of going above and beyond to serve local communities throughout the pandemic, to be coughed on, spat at and threatened with knives and syringes must not become normalised. Quite simply, it should not be part of the job.”
Note for Editors
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with over 380,000 members. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemical industry and other trades.
Protection of Workers (Retail and Age-restricted Goods and Services) (Scotland) Act 2021: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2021/6
Usdaw summer campaign week, 22-29 August 2021: During the week, Usdaw members, reps and activists will be raising awareness of the year-round Freedom from Fear Campaign, talking to the public at street stalls to promote a message of ‘respect for shopworkers’ and running campaigns in workplaces.
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion