Retail trade union Usdaw has welcomed a House of Commons Early Day Motion on the assault of shopworkers. The union is urging MPs to support the motion, which is proposed by Gareth Thomas MP (Labour/Co-op, Harrow West).

Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says:
“We welcome the support of Gareth Thomas for Usdaw’s long-running Freedom From Fear Campaign and his Early Day Motion, which calls on the Government to introduce legislation so that assaulting a public facing worker becomes a clear standalone offence.

“Usdaw’s research has shown that around 400* shopworkers are assaulted every day. In the face of an epidemic of violence against shop staff, there is an ever-pressing need for Government action.

“All too often the criminals feel they can get away with assaulting staff and are not punished. That’s why we need Government action to help protect staff through the creation of a simple stand-alone offence that is widely recognised and understood by the public, police, the judiciary and most importantly criminals.”

EDM 207 – Assaults on shopworkers – Gareth Thomas MP

That this House deplores the rise in verbal and physical abuse of shopworkers, notes that according to research conducted by Usdaw, over 400 retail workers were assaulted each day last year and that 62 per cent of retail staff have been the victim of either verbal or physical abuse; further notes that the view of respected criminologists is that levels of violence against shopworkers have reached epidemic proportions with lasting effects on the lives of workers, both mentally and physically; supports demands for action called for by the Freedom of Fear campaign led by Usdaw, the similar demand for action call by the Co-op Group, the GMB and other Trade Unions, other leading retailers, the British Retail Consortium and the Association of Convenience Stores; and calls on the Government to introduce measures to tackle these issues including bringing forward legislative proposals to make assaulting a public facing worker a standalone offence which would provide not only a clear deterrent to those thinking of assaulting shopworkers but also clear routes to prosecution for the police and courts dealing with this growing problem.

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 2019 annual survey of 6,457 UK shopworkers found that 5.05% had been assaulted over the last 12 months. When extrapolated over circa 3,000,000 retail workers, this amounts to over 400 assaults per day. Usdaw believes this is an underestimation because the survey analysis assumes each respondent was only assaulted once last year and it was conducted in mainly larger trade union organised stores, which tend to be safer than smaller non-unionised workplaces.

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