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You’re better off with Labour – Usdaw’s Paddy Lillis urges working people to vote for hope

Shopworkers’ trade union leader Paddy Lillis is urging voters to back Labour’s manifesto of hope for working people

On December 12 we have the opportunity to vote out a reckless, incompetent Tory government intent on dismantling our welfare state, stripping back our employment rights and cutting our public services back to the bone. 

A government so obsessed with delivering Brexit at any cost, that they will ignore the rule of law and drag the country off a cliff to get there. Labour’s manifesto offers the country and particularly working people a real alternative and genuine hope for change. 

Ending in-work poverty would be one of Labour’s greatest achievements; it is the scourge of modern society. The government disgracefully failed to act on the evidence Usdaw’s “Time for Better Pay” campaign revealed, so we are delighted that Labour has listened and taken on board our policy recommendations.

Insecure low-paid work is causing many families a great deal of hardship as they struggle to make ends meet and have no guaranteed income from week to week. So Labour’s £10 per hour for all workers, an end to zero-hour employment, contracts that reflect workers hours and scrapping the universally discredited universal credit are very welcome and will make a real difference to our members and millions of workers.

Among promises on sorting out the NHS, housing, education and many other services that our members rely on, Labour has a plan to tackle the crisis on our high streets. Retail is going through tremendous difficulties, resulting in many job losses and store closures.

Thriving town and city centres are vital in providing employment and creating pride in our communities, but up and down the country empty shops and rising retail job losses have been the reality for the past few years. We need a government that does not just stand idly by, one that takes retail jobs seriously and supports an industry employing over three million workers.

Labour has listened to Usdaw’s “Save our Shops” campaign and is committed to developing a retail sector industrial strategy including a review of the business rates system to make it fairer for bricks and mortar retailers. 

We welcome Labour’s new Ministry of Employment Rights, building on a proud history of improving workers’ rights. We must tackle the anti-union attitude of employers like M&S, Aldi, Lidl and Boohoo, who block union reps speaking directly to their staff, intimidate workers who want to join a trade union and shut the door on workers having an independent collective voice. 

Instead, we want a society, an economy and a country where workers have a real stake and a real voice. 

Usdaw is backing Labour’s manifesto commitment to ensure “that public-facing workers are protected by toughening the law against abuse and violence”; a measure that has also been called for by retail employer organisations.

Violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers are worryingly high, interim figures from this year’s Usdaw survey of over 4,000 shopworkers suggest there’s been a big jump in incidents, with violence against shopworkers up 25 per cent since last year. Around 400 shopworkers are assaulted every day, with many more threatened and verbally abused.

Usdaw and retailers are jointly calling on the government for additional legal protections to prevent attacks on shopworkers and ensure that violent criminals are prosecuted. Unfortunately Conservative ministers have not yet responded to the evidence received in their own consultation, which was debated on the final sitting of Parliament. However, Usdaw is very pleased that Labour’s manifesto promises to legislate for shopworker protection. 

It is time to say enough is enough and only Labour is pledged to deliver much needed protections. Retail staff have a crucial role in our communities and that role must be valued and respected, they deserve the protection of the law.

Our country is crying out for change, a different direction that will bring hope and prosperity. 

Labour is the party that will deliver a future that works for all. Labour has listened to our members concerns and set out a programme to address them. Usdaw is urging working people to use their vote and vote for a future that works for all by voting Labour.

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