Protection of Retail Workers Debate

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Department: Home Office

Protection of Retail Workers

Mike Amesbury Excerpts
Monday 7th June 2021

(3 years, 1 month ago)

Westminster Hall
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Mike Amesbury Portrait Mike Amesbury (Weaver Vale) (Lab) [V]
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It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Gray. I thank the 104,000 who signed the petition and my good colleague, my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham North (Alex Norris), who has been such a vocal champion for this cause.

This debate comes nearly a year and a half after I led a Westminster Hall debate on the very same vital subject over a year ago. Thanks to the engagement team from USDAW, the Co-op, and the British Retail Consortium, we received powerful, often very distressing, stories from retail workers across the country of their experiences of abuse in the workplace. As has been documented in the debate today, the challenges facing retail workers since the previous debate, especially in the early days of the first lockdown, have been extraordinary. It is no surprise to hear that enforcing public health measures such as social distancing and face coverings, and dealing with stock issues, have been big triggers for abuse over the past year. More than ever, we have relied on our shop workers to enforce important laws—not just those relating to alcohol, knives and other potentially dangerous goods, but those relating to social distancing, mask wearing and ensuring that household items are not hoarded.

Shop workers in Cheshire told USDAW that they have had cans thrown at their heads, and have been spat on and kicked by customers. Refusing to sell alcohol to a customer resulted in verbal abuse. Such incidents clearly deserve prosecution, but very few get to that point. That is why we need specific protections. If it is good enough for Scotland—a law was introduced on 24 August—it is certainly good enough for the people of Runcorn and our nation. I look forward to the Government doing the right thing and legislating now.