Chris Elmore, MP for Ogmore, has paid tribute to the retail workers who have worked so hard to support their communities during the pandemic and has said that if the law currently in place cannot be enforced, there needs to be a meaningful change in the law to protect retail workers.
USDAW conducts the ‘Freedom From Fear’ work survey every year. Of the respondents in 2020, 9 in 10 shop workers confirmed that they had been verbally abused; 60% said that they had reported threats of abuse; and 9% had been physically assaulted.
MPs, unions, and retail workers have long been calling for tougher sentences for those who assault shop workers. While violence against those working in retail has been increasing over a number of years, cases soared during the pandemic. Chris Elmore, along with other MPs, is calling for these key workers to receive adequate protection.
Chris Elmore, MP for Ogmore, said:
“I was a trainee butcher in Tesco before I became an MP. That was my first proper job and I received abuse from members of the public; it was nothing unusual to have meat quite literally thrown at us in shops. It was really very common for customers to think it perfectly normal to shout at staff on a regular basis and to think nothing of making threats of physical and verbal abuse.
“Any abuse towards retail workers is completely unacceptable. That the UK Government have so far failed to take any action is appalling, especially given the cross-party support that exists to protect our retail workers. This must be a priority – our key workers have supported us through this pandemic; we could not have got through it without them. It’s time the UK Government paid back that dedication.
“It’s not often you find trade unions, small business, and large businesses all in-sync on a policy matter. But that is what we have when it comes to tackling abuse against shopworkers. The UK Government have dragged their heels for over a decade despite the mounting evidence. Now is the time for action to protect retail staff from violence and abuse.”
Chris Elmore spoke during the Protection of Retail Workers debate in Westminster Hall on 7 June. Hansard: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2021-06-07/debates/3EAB4085-F969-4B6D-BC90-D4D0C1F9A8B6/ProtectionOfRetailWorkers#contribution-2FF0B4DC-FD37-42F1-BEBF-CA345B9BEF06