I 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.
I am pledging 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.
I support Usdaw’s campaign because all 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 am disappointed that opposition members have blocked measures that Labour proposed to introduce stiffer sentences.
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.
Over 300 shopworkers are assaulted every day, that is why 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.