We have welcomed the news that a petition pushing for better protection for shopworkers has hit the 100,000 signatures needed to trigger a parliamentary debate.
The Society, working alongside the likes of co-op movement and leading names such as Marks and Spencer, Tesco and Boots, has played a key role in supporting trade union Usdaw’s bid to secure greater protection for people carrying out those public duties.
Now, we are echoing the calls of Usdaw in asking MPs and the Government to schedule the debate looking at this important issue.
Chief Executive Debbie Robinson said: “Stronger laws and punishments are needed for criminals who feel that it is acceptable to target shop workers in these types of brutal and appalling ways.
“It is great news that the petition has hit this milestone and we now urge the Government to schedule a debate on this important issue.
“While we continue to campaign for more to be done, we also want to send a message to would-be criminals. We have a Zero Tolerance approach to any kind of crime and are prepared to work around the clock with local police forces to enforce justice as we work to keep our colleagues and customers safe.”
Over the past three years, Central England Co-op has invested heavily in measures to protect colleagues including fitting stores with external motion detectors and a centrally monitored CCTV system fitted which allows colleagues to call for assistance at the touch of a button.
Recently, the retailer revealed that assaults had jumped by 100%, threats and intimidation by 25% and verbal abuse by 175% since the start of the year, and since the lockdown was introduced, there have been over 100 incidents related directly to people using COVID-19 as a threat.
Some examples of incidents have included multiple threats by customers to cough on colleagues and ‘give them Coronavirus’ and further threats of assaults because people have had to queue to enter stores, social distance or simply because they do not have a specific product.
Paddy Lillis, Usdaw General Secretary, said: “I am grateful to our reps, activists and members who have worked hard to achieve the necessary 100,000 signatures. It is no surprise that we have reached this milestone as this is a hugely important issue for shopworkers. With incidents of abuse doubling during the pandemic, retail workers, their friends, family and loved ones, are saying loud and clear that enough is enough, abuse should never be just a part of the job.
“We now urge the House of Commons Petitions Committee to grant a parliamentary debate and for MPs to support the aims of the petition by persuading the Government to back legislation to protect shopworkers.
“When the shopping public, retailers and the trade union for shopworkers unite in a call for action, it should be time for the Government to listen to our concerns and deliver much needed protection for staff.”
The retailer is also continuing to support the work of Alex Norris, MP for Nottingham North, and his Assault on Shop Workers Bill, which had its second reading in Parliament delayed until 8 January.
Central England Co-op has been running a long-term campaign showcasing its zero tolerance’ approach to violence and aggression towards colleagues.
More details on the petition can be found here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/328621