Parliament to debate petition to stop shopworker violence

A petition from retail trade union Usdaw, which calls for stricter rules to protect shopworkers from violence and abuse, is set to be debated in parliament on June 7.

Since it was originally launched in August 2020, the petition has been signed by over 100,000 people and is also backed by the British Retail Consortium (BRC), Co-op Food, and the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS).

The petition calls for legislation that will make abusing, threatening, or assaulting a retail worker a specific offense, which carries a penalty that acts as a deterrent and “makes clear that abuse of retail workers is unacceptable.”

The news comes after research from the BRC found there were 455 incidents of violence or abuse towards retail staff each day during the 2019/20 financial year, a 7 per cent increase from 2018/19.

This figure includes 114 incidents of violence each day, which means that over a 9-hour shopping day there would be one incident of abuse every minute, and an incident of violence every five minutes.

“I am grateful to our reps, activists and members who worked hard to pass the necessary 100,000 signatures, which has now secured a parliamentary debate,” said Paddy Lillis general secretary at Usdaw. “This is a hugely important issue for shopworkers, with incidents of abuse doubling during the pandemic. Abuse should never be just a part of the job.

“We now urge MPs to support the aims of the petition and persuade the Government to back legislation to protect shopworkers.

He added: “Retail employers, leading retail bodies and the shopworkers’ trade union are jointly calling for legislation, so it is time for the Government and MPs to listen.”

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