Chris Elmore, MP for Ogmore, condemns the Tory Government for voting against the creation of a law that would offer better protections for retail staff as violence, threats and abuse directed towards workers skyrockets since the beginning of the pandemic.
The Labour Party tabled amendments to the Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill that would create a specific offence of assaulting a retail worker with a sentence of up to 12 months, and a new offence for assaults committed as a direct result of workers enforcing statutory age restrictions. This would give greater protection to retail workers as they go about their jobs, particularly when enforcing statutory age restrictions on the sale of products such as acid and knives. Currently, a shopworker can be prosecuted for not enforcing the laws on age related sales, but have no specific protections for abuse they may encounter when doing so.
These amendments were voted down by the Tory Government in Parliament on Monday evening, as they continue to refuse to support a specific law that would protect retail workers.
In the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW) 2020 survey of shopworkers, 88% of respondents had experienced verbal abuse, 60% had been threatened by a customer and 9% were assaulted. Retail staff being asked to enforce social distancing and face masks to keep shoppers safe has put them more at risk of experiencing abuse, with 79% of shopworkers reporting that abuse was worse than in 2019.
Chris Elmore, MP for Ogmore, said:
“It’s shocking that on average more than 400 retail workers in the UK are attacked every day just for doing their jobs. Staff on the shop floor are expected to enforce the law on age restricted products, yet are offered no specific protections to keep them safe.
“The statistics from the USDAW report make it abundantly clear that action is needed to protect shopworkers, yet the Tory Government continue to refuse to support a law to make abusing, assaulting or threatening retail staff a specific offence.
“The Tory Government need to stop turning their backs on the safety of our key workers, and take action to send out a clear message that violence against retail staff is not acceptable, and will not be tolerated.”
USDAW’s 2020 survey results can be found here: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/CMSPages/GetFile.aspx?guid=630d6f8e-73df-4ca2-a923-7f1251381614