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Peers from all parties speak in favour of a new protection of shopworkers law – Usdaw disappointed that the Government is still yet to commit support

Date: 18 November 2021 Retail trade union Usdaw has welcomed cross-party support from Peers for two protection of shopworkers amendments to the Government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which were debated last night in the House of Lords.
The amendments were moved by Lord Coaker (Labour) and Baroness Neville-Rolfe (Conservative), with supportive speeches made by Lord Lea (Independent), Baroness Bennett (Green) and Baroness Jolly (Lib Dem). Peers did not push the amendments to a vote and could bring them back at report stage of the Bill.
 
The Government responded to the debate by restating that they continue to actively consider supporting a protection of shopworkers law, like the ground-breaking legislation that came into force in Scotland in August this year, a move that is backed by retail employers, leading retail bodies, the Home Affairs Select Committee and the shopworkers’ trade union.
 
Moving one of the amendments, Lord Vernon Coaker said: “Now is the time for us to say we recognise what shopworkers did during the pandemic, the service they provided and perhaps for the first time the importance of what they give to the community as a whole. Now is the time for us as legislators to respect that and act by creating an offence to prevent some of the unbelievable abuse that they receive.”
 
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “We are grateful to Peers from across the House of Lords for their supportive comments last night. While we are still disappointed that the Government has not committed to a simple stand-alone offence for assaulting a retail worker, we remain hopeful that their ‘active consideration’ will eventually lead to the right result for our members.
 
“We need a new offence to encourage prosecutions and provide the deterrent effect that retail staff are desperately looking for. Retail employers, leading retail bodies, the Home Affairs Select Committee and the shopworkers’ trade union are jointly calling for legislation; it is time for the Government to act.
 
“In Scotland, MSPs voted through a new ground-breaking law to give shopworkers the protection they deserve, which came into force in August. We are looking for the Government and the House of Lords to similarly support key workers across the retail sector, who regrettably all too often suffer violence and abuse.”
 
Notes 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.
 
Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill debate on amendments 263 and 264 moved in a committee of the whole House of Lords on Wednesday 17 November 2021: https://hansard.parliament.uk/lords/2021-11-17/debates/42CB0ACD-EB6B-4CFA-946E-58269AFAA48E/PoliceCrimeSentencingAndCourtsBill#contribution-FC91D939-FF7B-4F60-AFDA-784979B1BA39
 
Interim results of the Usdaw’s 2021 survey, based on 3,464 responses, show that: 89.26% were verbally abused, 64.46% were threatened. 21.59% shopworkers had been assaulted during their career. 10.82% had been assaulted this year. Asked “On a scale of 1-10 how confident are you that reporting abuse, threats and violence will make a difference” 46.35% scored less than five out of ten. 7.35% of those who’d been assaulted didn’t report it. The final results of the survey will be published in 2022.
 
Protection of Workers (Retail and Age-restricted Goods and Services) (Scotland) Act 2021: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2021/6
 
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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