Usdaw “deeply disappointed” as government rejects new laws to protect shop workers from violence
Usdaw has expressed deep disappointment that the government yesterday rejected proposals for a new law to protect shop workers from violence, threats and abuse, despite evidence that incidents have doubled during the coronavirus emergency.
It has now been over a year since the Home Office consultation on violence against shopworkers closed. Usdaw surveying estimates more than 150,000 shop workers have been assaulted since then. Usdaw responded, along with a broad range of retailers, calling for a new law to tackle this growing problem. The government responded only yesterday to the overwhelming evidence they received and rejected extending the law to protect retail staff.
Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis said: “We are deeply disappointed that the government has rejected legislating for stiffer penalties for those who assault workers. They have failed to listen to the voices of shop workers and retailers, who had jointly called for a simple stand-alone offence that is widely recognised and understood by the public, police, CPS, the judiciary and most importantly criminals.
“Retail staff have a crucial role in our communities and that role must be valued and respected, they deserve the protection of the law. We are shocked that violence, threats and abuse have doubled during this national emergency. At a time when we should all be working together to get through this crisis, it is a disgrace that the people working to keep food on the shelves for their local communities are being abused and assaulted.
“Our message is clear, abuse is not part of the job. Life on the frontline of retail is normally pretty tough for many shopworkers and has become much worse during the coronavirus emergency. Shopworkers are on the frontline of feeding the country, providing an essential service in very difficult circumstances, working long hours in busy stores, facing abuse from customers and of course concerned they may contract Covid-19.
“The safety of our members is absolutely paramount, but they tell us that some of the shopping public are resisting social distancing measures in stores and can become abusive when asked to queue and maintain social distancing. Our message to the public is there is no excuse for abusing shopworkers and they deserve to be respected and appreciated.”
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