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MPs today have the opportunity to support long overdue protection of workers laws – Usdaw members appeal for their support

Date: 05 July 2021 Retail trade union Usdaw welcomes three amendments to the Government’s flagship policing bill, due for debate this afternoon/evening , which will provide greater protection for workers from violence, threats and abuse. Usdaw members are urging MPs not to let this opportunity pass them by and to support all three amendments.
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill goes through report stage today and the three amendments give MPs the opportunity to back a specific law against abusing either: a worker serving the public, a shopworker or a worker enforcing age restricted sales laws. The amendments have been tabled by MPs from both sides of the House of Commons and are supported by workers, shoppers and retailers. 
  • New Clause 31, Sarah Jones MP (Labour, Croydon Central): A new offence of assaulting etc a retail worker.
  • New Clause 32, Sarah Jones MP (Labour, Croydon Central): Increases sentencing powers for offences of common assault committed against a worker enforcing age restriction regulations.
  • New Clause 90, Matt Vickers MP (Conservative, Stockton South): A new offence of assaulting etc a person providing a service to the public. 
A new law to protect workers from violence, threats and abuse has widespread support: Paddy Lillis - Usdaw General Secretary says: “Today MPs have a range of options to back new laws to protect shopworkers and I along with our members, customers and retailers, am urging them not to let this opportunity pass them by.
 
“It is incredibly heartening to see the huge level of support from the shopping public for our members who have faced unprecedented levels of violence, threats and abuse. We are disappointed that Ministers have been opposed to a protection of workers law, despite overwhelming evidence, including the welcome recommendations from the cross-party influential Home Affairs Select Committee following their investigation. We hope that Ministers will change their minds and support today’s amendments on the issue.
 
“When retail employers, leading retail bodies, the public and the shopworkers’ trade union call for legislation, it is time for the Government and MPs to listen. In Scotland, MSPs voted through a new ground-breaking law to give workers the protection they deserve. We are now looking for MPs to support key workers and help turn around the UK Government’s opposition. They have the opportunity to do so today.”
 
Voices from the frontline: Some of the comments from shopworkers responding to Usdaw latest annual survey:
  • “Asked a customer to join the back of a queue, got verbal abuse. She then returned to the store with a knife and said she was going cut me up.”
  • “Physically pushed, shoved, trolley rammed during panic buying.”
  • “Trying to belittle and humiliate you. Undermining what you are saying about the rules.”
  • “Being screamed at when telling customers we don’t have an item in stock.”
  • “I had members of the public cough on me as I was stacking shelves."
  • “People pulling your mask off for being a sheep.”
  • “My car was keyed by a customer who was barred from the shop.”
  • “Since the pandemic I've had abuse nearly every day, even coughed on twice.” 
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.
 
Usdaw’s 2020 survey of 2,729 shopworkers across the UK found that:
  • 88% experienced verbal abuse
  • 60% were threatened by a customer
  • 9% were assaulted
  • 79% of shopworkers say abuse was worse last year
The full report can be downloaded from: www.usdaw.org.uk/FFFReport2020
 
Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry: https://committees.parliament.uk/work/915/violence-and-abuse-towardsretailworkers/
 
Protection of Workers (Retail and Age-restricted Goods and Services) (Scotland) Act 2021: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2021/6
 
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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