Thursday, 23 October 2014

Campaign to protect shopworkers from violence, threats and abuse

Pic. with John Hannett,
Usdaw General Secretary
I have joined with members of the retail union Usdaw to campaign for respect for shopworkers as part of the Freedom From Fear Campaign, which seeks to prevent violence, threats and abuse directed at retail staff.

Attending a campaign event in the House of Commons, I pledged to support a protection of workers bill that would introduce a specific offence of assaulting a worker serving the public.

Too often retail employees are confronted with violence, threats and abuse and it is really important we stand together and ask people to respect shopworkers.

I’ve been very disappointed to see Tory and Liberal MPs, on five occasions in the current Parliament, combine to block this measure when proposed by Labour.

Making the assault of a worker serving the public an offence in its own right would simplify sentencing. Under existing guidelines, assaulting a worker is an aggravating factor, but there are concerns this is not being applied when decisions are made about prosecutions and sentencing.

I will continue to campaign with Usdaw for a change in the law to ensure that proper punishments are given out. We must give a clear message that assaulting workers who are serving the public is totally unacceptable.

Respect for Shopworker Week 2014 takes place on 10 – 14 November. It is an annual event where shopworkers talk to the public about the problems of violence threats and abuse, asking customers to ‘keep their cool’. Part of the campaign will be encouraging shopworkers not to accept abuse as just being part of the job and report incidents to their manager.

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