Retail trade union Usdaw has welcomed cross-party support from Peers for two protection of shopworkers amendments to the Government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which were debated last night in the House of Lords.

The amendments were moved by Lord Coaker (Labour) and Baroness Neville-Rolfe (Conservative), with supportive speeches made by Lord Lea (Independent), Baroness Bennett (Green) and Baroness Jolly (Lib Dem). Peers did not push the amendments to a vote and could bring them back at report stage of the Bill.

The Government responded to the debate by restating that they continue to actively consider supporting a protection of shopworkers law, like the ground-breaking legislation that came into force in Scotland in August this year, a move that is backed by retail employers, leading retail bodies, the Home Affairs Select Committee and the shopworkers’ trade union.

Moving one of the amendments, Lord Vernon Coaker said: “Now is the time for us to say we recognise what shopworkers did during the pandemic, the service they provided and perhaps for the first time the importance of what they give to the community as a whole. Now is the time for us as legislators to respect that and act by creating an offence to prevent some of the unbelievable abuse that they receive.”

Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “We are grateful to Peers from across the House of Lords for their supportive comments last night. While we are still disappointed that the Government has not committed to a simple stand-alone offence for assaulting a retail worker, we remain hopeful that their ‘active consideration’ will eventually lead to the right result for our members.

“We need a new offence to encourage prosecutions and provide the deterrent effect that retail staff are desperately looking for. Retail employers, leading retail bodies, the Home Affairs Select Committee and the shopworkers’ trade union are jointly calling for legislation; it is time for the Government to act.

“In Scotland, MSPs voted through a new ground-breaking law to give shopworkers the protection they deserve, which came into force in August. We are looking for the Government and the House of Lords to similarly support key workers across the retail sector, who regrettably all too often suffer violence and abuse.”

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