Usdaw welcomes parliamentary inquiry into shop violence

Retail trade union Usdaw has welcomed an inquiry into violence and abuse towards retail workers by the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee.

Last week, the union secured 100,000 signatures on a “protect shopworkers” petition that should now trigger a parliamentary debate.

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.

Some Co-op staff now wear body-cams to record abuse, with staff at Superdrug and Waitrose being issued with similar systems.

Paddy Lillis, Usdaw general secretary, said: “We were delighted to secure the necessary signatures on our petition to trigger a parliamentary debate. This new select committee inquiry, which we called for, is a very welcome opportunity to evidence the need for a 'protection of shopworkers' law.”

He said: “It has been a terrible year for our members, 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 part of the job'.”

Lillis said the union was “disappointed” by the government’s initial response to the petition, “offering little more than sympathy”, he said.

“Unfortunately, they also objected to MP Alex Norris' 'protection of shopworkers' bill in the House of Commons,” said Lillis. “We are now looking for MPs to get behind retail staff - who are key workers providing essential services - and to help turn round the government’s opposition.”

The “Assaults on Retail Workers (Offences) Bill”, promoted by Labour MP Alex Norris, was timetabled for its second reading in the House of Commons, but the government objected to it progressing and it is now delayed until 8 January.

Usdaw is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with over 400,000 members.

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