Usdaw calls on government to consider new deal for retail workers

Retail trade union Usdaw is marking 100 days of lockdown by calling for a new deal for workers, after the coronavirus emergency has shown that “millions of low-paid” and “undervalued workers” have “stepped up in the most difficult of circumstances”.

Usdaw said workers in retail, manufacturing, distribution and home delivery have been “working around the clock, keeping food on our tables and medicines in our cupboards” and have adapted to huge change in an extremely short time, working under intense pressure and providing a lifeline to our communities.

Usdaw is calling for a £10 minimum wage for all workers, ending rip-off youth rates and providing a living wage, a minimum contract of 16 hours per week, for everyone who wants it, that reflects normal hours worked and a ban on zero-hour contracts and “better sick pay” for all workers, from day one, at average earnings.

The union is also asking for respect for shop workers as “abuse is not a part of the job”.

Earlier this year, Usdaw reported that one in six shop workers have suffered abuse on every shift, during the coronavirus pandemic.

The statistics revealed 62% of the 4,928 shopworkers 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.

It is also asking for a “proper social security system” as Universal Credit does not “provide a safety net”, Job security, Fair treatment and equality for all workers, including equal pay and a voice at work, stop rogue employers refusing to engage with trade unions.

Paddy Lillis, Usdaw general secretary, said: “Millions of low-paid workers have provided essential services to help ensure the country is fed, healthy and safe through 100 days of lockdown and will continue to do so.

“Usdaw members employed in our supermarkets, distribution warehouses, food processing sites and home delivery operations welcomed the key worker status, but that respect and appreciation must not fade into the background when this national crisis passes.” 

He added: “There must be lasting and fundamental changes to the way society views our lowest paid workers. 

“We need a new deal for the workers: a minimum wage of at least £10 per hour, an end to insecure employment, respect for shop workers and action to ensure that retail jobs are no longer underpaid and undervalued. It cannot be right that key workers in supermarkets, who are keeping our communities fed, are visiting food banks to feed their own families.”

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