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SHOPWORKERS welcomed the Scottish Parliament’s unanimous vote yesterday in favour of the first stage of legislation to protect them from abuse, threats and violence — while in England Tories vetoed a debate on the Bill.
Retail union Usdaw is campaigning for Britain-wide legislation to deter abusive behaviour through tougher sentencing.
Instances of abuse have doubled since the coronavirus lockdown, with some customers reacting with anger when shop staff remind them that they should wear face masks and observe social distancing in stores.
A private member’s Bill, promoted at Westminster by Nottingham North Labour MP Alex Norris and supported by 23 retail industry chief executives, was due for its second reading yesterday, but the government blocked the debate. It cannot now take place until late October.
In Scotland, MSPs at Holyrood united behind Usdaw’s campaign through a Bill promoted by Labour’s Daniel Johnson.
Usdaw Scottish divisional officer Stewart Forrest said: “Throughout the coronavirus emergency, shopworkers are ensuring that Scotland remains fed.
“Retail staff are at an increased risk of contracting Covid-19, yet they have continued to go to work and help respond to the crisis.
“Despite this, we have seen abuse, threats and violence against shop staff double this year.”
Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis said: “The Scottish Parliament is leading the way on the protection of shopworkers by passing this Bill on to the next stage.
“At a time when we should all be working together to get through this crisis, it is a disgrace that people working to keep food on the shelves are being abused and assaulted.
“Our message is clear: abuse is not part of the job.”
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