Andrew Gwynne MP has 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, Andrew Gwynne has pledged to support a protection of workers bill that would introduce a specific offence of assaulting a worker serving the public, thereby extending existing protections for police officers, immigration officers and Scottish emergency service workers.
Andrew Gwynne MP said:
“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 support Usdaw’s campaign for stiffer sentences and 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.”
John Hannett – Usdaw General Secretary said:
“We are grateful to Andrew for supporting our campaign to keep our members safe at work.
“Often, in the course of their duties, shopworkers are expected to enforce the law, whether that is preventing under-age purchases of products like knives, tobacco or alcohol, or detaining shoplifters until the police arrive, they can be put in real danger. Parliament has given shopworkers the duty to enforce the law, so Parliament should provide the necessary protection.
“I have been shocked by the leniency of some of the sentences for assault of workers. Over 300 shopworkers are assaulted every day and it is time to say enough is enough. The Government must act to address this issue and act quickly.”