As a former shopworker for the Co-Op I know the difficulty retail workers face when dealing with customers who want to buy products which they are not old enough to purchase.
This Bill would bring into law welcomed restrictions on corrosive acid and knives to help tackle the rise in the use of these weapons in attacks. We have all heard the terrible cases where acid is thrown in people’s faces and the rapid rise in knife crime in metropolitan areas. I welcome this Bill in trying to do something about it.
However, it will also mean that shopworkers are responsible for assessing if someone is allowed to buy the products. These are the very same people who may have intent to attack someone with the product. But the Bill has no extra protections for retail workers in undertaking this task.
We must ensure that shopworkers have a freedom from fear when they go to work. Bringing into force a new offence of attacking a retail worker would do just that.
I was encouraged by the Home Secretary’s remarks and hope that I can work across the party divide for retail staff.
I have pledged my support for the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw) campaign to prevent violence, threats and abuse against workers.
Usdaw’s survey of retail workers shows that half of shopworkers were verbally abused in the last year, with 29% being threatened with violence and 8% suffering physical assaults. A third of those suffering physical violence did not report the incident to their employer. Read more “Freedom from Fear Campaign”
On Monday, I asked the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Sarah Newton MP, what action the Government was taking to help encourage shopworkers to report attacks that take place against them in the workplace by customers.
I raised this question as USDAW – the trade union that represents shopworkers – is continuing its campaign called ‘Freedom from Fear’. This aims to raise awareness that it is not alright for shopworkers to face verbal or physical attacks whilst at work. USDAW’s figures show that there is a chronic under-reporting of attacks on shopworkers and we need more people to come forward when they have been a victim. Only then will we be able to tackle this crime.
The Minister agreed with me that the USDAW campaign, ‘Freedom from Fear’, is an excellent one and that she will be working with USDAW in the Government’s steering group to tackle abuse on the shopfloor.
I condemned the figures released by Usdaw – the Union of Shop, distributive and allied workers – showing that 1 in 10 shopworkers have been assaulted at work. But even more concerning Usdaw have learnt that nearly a third do not report it.
USDAW is the UK’s fourth largest union in the country representing 435,000 members nationwide. They represent members in:
• All major retailers
• Road transport
• Warehouses and distribution
• Food manufacturing
• Home shopping
• Plus a range of other industries. Read more “Freedom from Fear Week 2016”