Retail trade union Usdaw was disappointed to again hear a Government Minister reject a Bill to protect shop workers from violent attacks, a measure that is also supported by retail employers.

Responding today to questions from Daniel Zeichner MP (Labour, Cambridge) and Shadow Home Affairs Minister Bambos Charalambous MP (Labour, Enfield Southgate); Kit Malthouse (Minister of State for Crime and Policing) told the House of Commons that the Government didn’t “yet” see a case for a specific offence of assaulting a shopworker.

The Assaults on Retail Workers (Offences) Bill, promoted by Alex Norris MP (Labour/Co-op, Nottingham North) was timetabled for its second reading in the House of Commons in September. However the Government objected to it progressing and the Bill is now delayed until Friday 8 January 2021.

23 major British retailers and the sector’s leading industry bodies wrote to the Prime Minister asking him to provide effective legal protection for shopworkers in the face of increasing levels of abuse and violence and in support of Alex Norris’ Private Members Bill.

Shopworkers’ trade union leader Paddy Lillis launched a parliamentary petition to legislate to protect shopworkers, which now has over 90,000 signatures. The petition can be signed at: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/328621

Paddy Lillis, Usdaw General Secretary says: 
“We continue to be disappointed by the Government’s response to our petition, offering little more than sympathy. Their objection to the Bill promoted by Alex Norris MP shows that we have to secure the 100,000 signatures needed to get the issue debated on the floor of the House of Commons.

“I urge the Government to listen to the voices of shopworkers and retailers by legislating for stiffer penalties for those who assault workers. Our members working in retail need Ministers to turn their words of sympathy into action by supporting the Bill to protect shopworkers and help it onto the Statute Book.

“When retailers and the trade union for shop workers jointly call for action, it is time for the Government to listen to our concerns and deliver much needed protection for staff. Abuse must never be just a part of the job.”

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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