Coronavirus

Usdaw welcomes scrutiny of the Protection of Workers as it calls for the bill to progress

Shop workers trade union Usdaw has welcomed further scrutiny of the Protection of Workers (retail and age-restricted goods and services) (Scotland) Bill (Scotland) at the economy, energy and fair work committee meeting. 

Usdaw calls for the bill to complete stage one and progress to stage two of the legislative process, so that the parliament can give “consideration to amendments”.

Promoted by Daniel Johnson MSP (Labour, Edinburgh), the new law would protect retail workers from threats and abuse when enforcing the law on the purchase of age-restricted products. 

The meeting heard evidence from Johnson and allowed members of the committee to question him on his proposed new legislation.

Stewart Forrest , Usdaw’s Scottish divisional officer said “We welcome the committee’s scrutiny of this bill. This proposed new law is really important to our members and tackles a key issue of concern for them. 

“Every minute of every day another Scottish shop worker is abused, threatened or assaulted; often in the course of them enforcing the law, so they deserve the protection of the law.

It was clear from today’s meeting that there is strong support for the intentions of the bill, albeit there are questions about the details.”

He added: “So we would welcome the bill progressing to the next stages of the legislative process when amendments can be fully considered.

“Throughout the Coronavirus outbreak shop workers have been on the frontline of ensuring that Scotland remains fed. It is clear that shop workers are at an increased risk of contracting Covid-19, yet they have continued to go to work and help respond to the crisis sweeping the nation.” 

Forrest concluded: “However abuse of shopworkers is not a problem confined to these times of crisis and, in our view, the current legal provisions do not sufficiently protect them. The Scottish Government has indicated they too support the intentions of the bill and will engage in the details of it. We hope that will lead to a change in the law to better protect

The news comes as last month, Usdaw revealed one in six shop workers have suffered abuse on every shift, during the coronavirus pandemic.

The statistics revealed 62% of the 4,928 shop workers surveyed have experienced verbal abuse, with almost a third being threatened by a customer. Usdaw also revealed 4% of employees were assaulted, which amounts to more than 3,500 every day when averaged across all retail workers.

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