Senior retail leaders have jointly written to the Prime Minister to raise concerns about the increasing problem of violence and abuse against shopworkers. They ask the Government to treat the issue with the seriousness it deserves and improve protection for staff by creating a new statutory offence of assaulting, threatening, or abusing a retail worker.

Full letter: https://brc.org.uk/media/676908/pm-ceo-crime-letter-feb-2021.pdf

Usdaw’s 2020 survey of 2,729 shopworkers across the UK found that:

  1. 88% experienced verbal abuse
  2. 61% were threatened by a customer,
  3. 9% were assaulted.

Paddy Lillis, Usdaw General Secretary says: 
“When retail CEOs, leading retail bodies and the shopworkers’ trade union jointly call for action, it is time for the Government to listen. Retail workers are saying loud and clear that enough is enough, abuse should never be just a part of the job.

“Our latest survey results lay bare the scale of the appalling violence, threats and abuse faced by shopworkers and demonstrate the need for a protection of shopworkers law. It has been a terrible year for our members, with almost 90% of shopworkers suffering abuse, two-thirds threatened and nearly one in ten assaulted.

“The Government responded to our petition with little more than sympathy, objected to the Alex Norris ‘protection of shopworkers’ bill and only this week again denied the need for a change in the law.

“Last month we had a great result for our members in Scotland, as MSPs voted through ground-breaking legislation to give shopworkers the protection of the law that they deserve. So we are now looking for the UK Government to support key workers across the retail sector and give them the protection they deserve.”

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.

66 signatories to the letter: Paddy Lillis, General Secretary, Usdaw, Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive, British Retail Consortium, Giles Hurley, Chief Executive Officer – UK and IRE, ALDI, Jacqueline Gold CBE, CEO, Ann Summers, Roger Burnley, President & CEO, ASDA Stores, James Lowman, Chief Executive, Association of Convenience Stores, Graham Bell, CEO, B&Q, Mark Jackson, CEO, Bensons for Beds, Andrew Goodacre, Chief Executive, BIRA, Alasdair Murdoch, Group CEO, BKUK, Meryl Halls, Managing Director, Booksellers Association, Sebastian James, Senior Vice President and Managing Director, Boots UK, Leanne Cahill, Managing Director, Bravissimo, Paul Moody, Executive Chairman (Interim), Card Factory, Wilf Walsh, CEO, Carpetright, Melinda Paraie, CEO, Cath Kidston, Debbie Robinson, Chief Executive, Central England Co-operative, Neil Lake, Managing Director, Costa Coffee UK&I, Darcy Willson-Rymer, Chief Executive, Costcutter Supermarkets, Mike Hazell, CEO, Debenhams, Alexander Baldock, Group Chief Executive, Dixons Carphone Group, Daniel Rubin, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Dune Group, Roger Whiteside, Chief Executive Officer, Greggs, Manju Malhotra, Chief Executive Officer, Harvey Nichols, Doug Putnam, Owner, hmv, Damian McGloughlin, CEO, Homebase, Tarsem Dhaliwal, Group CEO, Iceland Foods, Peter Jelkeby, Country Retail Manager and Chief Sustainability Officer, IKEA UK, Peter Cowgill, Executive Chairman, JD Sports, Pippa Wicks, Executive Director, John Lewis, Paula MacKenzie, Managing Director UK&I, KFC, Christian Härtnagel, CEO, Lidl GB, Alia Hawa, Managing Director – UK & Ireland, L’Occitane, Steve Rowe, Chief Executive, Marks & Spencer, Paul Pomroy, CEO, McDonald’s Restaurants, Toby Anderson, CEO, McKesson UK, Mark Neale, CEO, Mountain Warehouse, Anthony Short, Executive Director, Music Industries Association, Stuart Reddish, National President, NFRN, Peter Pritchard, CEO, Pets at Home, Nick Read, CEO, Post Office, Barry Williams, Managing Director, Poundland, Paul Marchant, CEO, Primark, Christos Angelides, Chief Executive Officer, Reiss, Julie Abraham, CEO, Richer Sounds, Simon Roberts, Chief Executive Officer, Sainsbury’s, Doug Winchester, Managing Director, Savers Health and Beauty, Colin Temple, Managing Director, Schuh, Dr Pete Cheema OBE, CEO, Scottish Grocers’ Federation, John Brodie, Chief Executive, Scottish Midland Co-operative Society, John Mewett, CEO, Screwfix Direct, Paul Hayes, CEO, Seasalt, Louise Hoste, Managing Director, Spar UK, Alex Rayner, VP & General Manager, Starbucks UK, Paul Kendrick, Managing Director (CEO Designate), Studio Retail, Peter Macnab, CEO, Superdrug Stores, David Boynton, CEO and Chairman/ Linda Campbell, UK Managing Director, The Body Shop, Jo Whitfield, Chief Executive, Food, The Co-operative Group, Sanjay Vadera, CEO, The Fragrance Shop, Gill Smith, Managing Director, The Perfume Shop, James Timpson, CEO, Timpson, Onur Koksal, CEO, Vision Express, James Bailey, Executive Director, Waitrose, Carl Cowling, Group Chief Executive, WHSmith, David Wood, CEO, Wickes Building Supplies, David Potts, Chief Executive, WM Morrison. https://brc.org.uk/media/676908/pm-ceo-crime-letter-feb-2021.pdf

Usdaw petition: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/328621

Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry: https://committees.parliament.uk/work/915/violence-and-abuse-towardsretailworkers/

Usdaw submission: www.usdaw.org.uk/HASCresponse

Justice Topical Questions, Tuesday 2 February 2021: https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2021-02-02/debates/8A70FE54-7D1D-4238-988D-BB59D347968E/TopicalQuestions#contribution-16CF0CEB-79BC-460B-86CC-3E9C92ECA535

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, but the Government objected and it is now delayed. https://bills.parliament.uk/bills/2725

Protection of Workers (Retail and Age-restricted Goods and Services) (Scotland) Bill: https://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/113557.aspx

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