15 December 2016
As the pre-Christmas shopping rush takes hold, I am supporting Usdaw’s ‘keep cool’ festive campaign.
I have previously met members of the shopworkers’ trade union in the Scottish Parliament during the annual ‘Respect for Shopworkers’ Week.
Interim results of Usdaw’s Freedom From Fear Survey reveal that nearly one in ten shopworkers have been assaulted in the course of their duties, but almost a third of them didn’t report the incident.
In the last 12 months nearly half were verbally abused and a quarter were threatened. The survey continues and full results will be released in the New Year.
Usdaw has explained there is a need for stiffer penalties for those who assault workers; a simple stand-alone offence that is widely recognised and understood by the public, police, Procurator Fiscals, the judiciary and most importantly criminals.
It is deeply regrettable that the SNP Government previously voted down the Protection of Workers Bill at Stage one, opposing the general principles of the Bill and refusing to give it detailed parliamentary consideration, despite wide support from the trade union movement and others.
Labour remains committed to providing shopworkers and all workers valuable protection against assault.
I join with Usdaw in asking the public to ‘keep their cool and respect shopworkers’. Retail staff have a crucial role in our communities and that role must be valued and respected.
Lawrence Wason Usdaw’s Scottish Divisional Officer added: “Violence, threats and abuse against workers is one of the great scourges of our society. The statistics are shocking and show that urgent action is required.
“Life on the frontline of retail can be pretty tough for many shopworkers. Usdaw’s Freedom From Fear Campaign seeks to tackle violence, threats and abuse against retail staff by working with employers to promote respect and make shops safer for staff and customers alike.
“All too often criminals who assault staff are not even sent to court, those who are can receive derisory sentences. In other cases, where the offender isn’t even charged, victims are left feeling that no one cares that they were assaulted. That can lead to staff not reporting incidents, because they don’t believe it will make a difference; so our strong message to shopworkers is ‘report it, to sort it’.
“We have been very pleased by the reception our members received from MSPs. Labour clearly support better protection for shopworkers, but we remain concerned that the SNP Government will again block such a move.”