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Usdaw welcomes the introduction of a protection of public-facing workers bill and urges the Government to back it

Date: 15 September 2021 Retail trade union Usdaw has welcomed the launch of the Abuse of Public-Facing Workers (Offences) Bill by Olivia Blake MP (Labour, Sheffield Hallam). The Bill was introduced in the House of Commons today under the 10-minute rule and is scheduled for a second reading on Friday 28 January 2022.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Olivia Blake MP said: “We need better reporting, support and a more robust pursuit of prosecutions, but we also need to see Government take action. Today with this Bill I’m here to propose that verbal or physical abuse of public-facing workers carrying out their duties has to be made its own specific offence.
 
“If the existing legislation reflects the situation in which we’re seeing spiralling levels of abuse, then it is time that we changed it because the status quo simply isn’t working. It should be an unalienable right to be treated with respect and dignity in your workplace, but many people feel they are ignored by a system which doesn’t care about them or take them seriously.”
 
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “We are grateful to Olivia Blake for proposing new legislation that would help protect all public-facing workers from abuse. However we are under no illusion and understand that this Bill stands little chance of being successful without Government support, so we urge Ministers to get behind this important measure.
 
“Last night a Minister in the House of Lords said that the Government is considering an amendment to their flagship crime bill that would provide additional protection for shopworkers. We believe that protecting all public facing is also worthy of their consideration. This is a growing problem across many sectors, as Olivia highlighted in her speech.
 
“The pandemic has shown just how reliant we are on key workers, many of them in low-paid insecure employment and often facing abuse from the public. These essential workers deserve a new deal to ensure that they are properly valued, they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and they deserve the protection of the law.”
 
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 – second reading: https://hansard.parliament.uk/lords/2021-09-14/debates/4D726E25-3924-4BB5-B399-4C839D773815/PoliceCrimeSentencingAndCourtsBill
 
Preliminary results of the Usdaw’s 2021 survey, based on 1,966 responses, show that in 2020 so far: 92.17% were verbally abused, 70.14% were threatened. 25.13% shopworkers had been assaulted during their career. 14.04% had been assaulted this year. The final results of the survey will be published in the New Year.
  
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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The official website of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers