A parliamentary petition that seeks to protect retail staff from violence, threats and abuse has passed the 100,000 signatures needed to trigger a parliamentary debate. Usdaw now seeks the support of MPs and the Government for legislation to protect retail staff.

Launched by shopworkers’ trade union leader Paddy Lillis, the petition can be signed at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/328621 The petition is backed by 23 major retailers and the industry’s leading trade bodies, with research by the Co-op showing its aims have public support as well.

Paddy Lillis, Usdaw General Secretary says: 
“I am grateful to our reps, activists and members who have worked hard to achieve the necessary 100,000 signatures. It is no surprise that we have reached this milestone, because this is a hugely important issue for shopworkers. With incidents of abuse doubling during the pandemic, retail workers, their friends, family and loved ones, are saying loud and clear that enough is enough, abuse should never be just a part of the job.

“We now urge the House of Commons Petitions Committee to grant a parliamentary debate and for MPs to support the aims of the petition by persuading the Government to back legislation to protect shopworkers.

“We welcome employer support for the petition and it is clear that the public are also on board, with a Co-op survey finding that over 80% say abuse of shopworkers is unacceptable and want greater sentencing for offenders. When the shopping public, retailers and the trade union for shopworkers unite in a call for action, it should be time for the Government to listen to our concerns and deliver much needed protection for staff.

“We were deeply disappointed by the Government’s initial response to the petition, offering little more than sympathy. Unfortunately, they objected to the Alex Norris’ protection of shopworkers bill in the House of Commons.

“I hope that the level of support shown for our petition will convince the Government to change their minds. Retail staff have a crucial role in our communities and that role must be valued and respected, they deserve the protection of the law.”

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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