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Urgent action is needed to protect shopworkers warns Scottish Labour, Usdaw and retail employers

Date: 30 October 2023 Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw has cosigned a letter to the new Chief Constable of Police Scotland from Daniel Johnson MSP (Labour, Edinburgh Southern), along with other stakeholders in retail. The coalition is highlighting shocking news that there have been almost 8,000 reported cases of shopworker abuse or assault since August 2021.
The Scottish Labour MSP successfully sponsored a new protection of workers law that was passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2021 in order to tackle the abuse too many shopworkers face. Since the legislation was introduced it has been used a staggering 7,955 times.
Daniel Johnson’s letter was co-signed by Usdaw, the Scottish Retail Consortium, the Scottish Grocers’ Federation, the Federation of Independent Retailers, the Scottish Co-op Party, and GMB Scotland: www.usdaw.org.uk/JohnsonLet...
Daniel Johnson MSP says: “It is a scandal that so many shopworkers face violence and abuse at work. Workers are too often bearing the brunt of retail crime, and the astonishing number of crimes being reported exposes the scale of this crisis.
“The new legal protection offered by my bill was an important step forward, but it must be backed up with a comprehensive plan to prevent these crimes as well as prosecute them. Shopworkers must be safe at work and the SNP must ensure the new Chief Constable has the support and resources she needs to make that a reality.”
Tracy Gilbert, Usdaw Regional Secretary for Scotland said “Retail crime is on the increase, especially from repeat and prolific offenders as part of organised gangs of criminals. The latest recorded crime figures show that there has been a 21% increase in shoplifting, which is very concerning for our members in retail. 
“This is not a victimless crime, theft from shops has long been a major flashpoint for violence and abuse against shopworkers. Having to deal with repeat and persistent shoplifters can cause issues beyond the theft itself like anxiety, fear and in some cases physical harm to retail workers.
“Our annual survey found that three-quarters of retail workers suffered abuse from customers, with far too many experiencing threats and violence. Theft from shops was the trigger for nearly a third of these incidents last year. Particularly concerning is that just over half of those who did the survey said they were not confident that reporting these issues will make any difference. 
“We were delighted to have won the campaign for a protection of workers law in the Scottish Parliament, but that is not job done. We have to ensure that the legislation is central to tackle a growing wave of retail crime and Usdaw looks forward to working with Police Scotland to make that happen.”

Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with over 350,000 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 www.usdaw.org.uk

Protection of Workers (Retail and Age-restricted Goods and Services) (Scotland) Act 2021: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2021/6
Recorded Crime in Scotland: year ending June 2023 https://www.gov.scot/news/recordedcrime-in-scotland-year-ending-june-2023
Final results of the Usdaw 2022 survey, based on 7,752 responses, show that (last year’s results in brackets): 74.26% (89%) were verbally abused, 49.25% (63%) were threatened. 7.92% (12%) had been assaulted. 40.88% said violence, threats and abuse caused them anxiety at work and 29.97% are now considering changing job. Top triggers for abuse: 34% shoplifting and armed robbery, along with 16% age-restricted sales. The full report can be found at: www.usdaw.org.uk/FFFReport2022
Usdaw’s Freedom from Fear Campaign seeks to prevent violence, threats and abuse against workers by engaging the public, shopworkers and the Government. https://www.usdaw.org.uk/ff...
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/new... and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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