Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw is disappointed by the Government’s response to yesterday’s Westminster Hall debate on protection of retail workers, secured by Mike Amesbury MP (Labour, Weaver Vale), which took place at 4.30pm on Tuesday 11 February 2020.

Paddy Lillis, Usdaw General Secretary says: 
“We are grateful to Mike Amesbury for leading yesterday’s debate in Parliament, highlighting the issues and demonstrating the full extent of violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers.

“Eight months ago, alongside a broad range of retail employers, we responded to the Home Office ‘call for evidence’ and jointly called for action to tackle this growing problem. Even in the time since the Home Office ‘call for evidence’ closed, our surveying suggests that around 100,000 shopworkers have been assaulted.

“So it is welcome that the Government is finally going to publish their response next month, but we remain concerned at the pace of progress. They need go much further much faster to address this ongoing, growing and pressing problem.

“Our message is clear; abuse is not a part of the job. We continue to call for stiffer penalties for those who assault shopworkers and the introduction of a simple stand-alone offence that is widely recognised and understood by the public, police, courts and most importantly criminals.

“We need decisive action to tackle this growing problem. Retail staff have a crucial role in our communities and that role must be valued and respected, they deserve the protection of the law.”

In June last year, Usdaw responded to the Government’s ‘call for evidence’ showing that from 3,272 retail workers surveyed:

  • 62% have been the victim of verbal or physical abuse.
  • 80% believe that abuse and violence have increased in recent years.
  • Almost a quarter describe threats of physical violence, with over half of these involving threats with weapons – most commonly knives, syringes or bottles.
  • 15% describe actual physical violence, varying from workers being pushed, spat upon, punched, kicked or attacked with weapons.

Usdaw’s full response is available at: www.usdaw.org.uk/UsdawEvidence

Usdaw’s call for Government action is backed by retailers and their representative organisations. A joint letter to the Home Secretary and other Ministers recommends:

  • Tougher sentences for those who attack shopworkers.
  • Changes to the out of court disposals system (e.g. fixed penalty notices) which is failing to have an impact on reoffending.
  • A full review into the response of police forces to incidents of violence in retail.

The full letter can be viewed at: www.usdaw.org.uk/RetailViolenceLetter

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.

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