News Archive

Shop Bill

by msecadm4921

The shop worker Union Usdaw denounced the pre-Christmas decision of the Scottish Parliament to vote down the Protection of Workers (Scotland) Bill and condemned the SNP Government’s failure to support progress of the Bill.

The Bill, which was being steered through the Scottish Parliament by Labour MSP Hugh Henry, would have given shop workers and other public facing staff the same protection given to emergency workers who are assaulted while doing their jobs.

MSPs voted by a margin of 75 to 42 against allowing further discussion on the Bill, despite a Parliamentary Committee acknowledging that action was urgently needed to address violence against public facing workers.

John Hannett, Usdaw General Secretary said: "Scotland’s shopworkers have been very badly let down by the SNP. They legislated to put shopworkers on the frontline of preventing under-age sales, yet have now blocked any further discussion about protecting those same shopworkers from the violence and abuse they face when doing their jobs."

"Scotland’s shopworkers needed action from the SNP Government and instead all they received were warm words and sympathy. That isn’t going to stop or deter the thug that attacks one of our members for refusing to sell them alcohol later tonight."

And Lawrence Wason, Usdaw Scottish Divisional Officer said: "Our members will be dismayed by the failure of SNP MSPs and others to support them. To suggest workplace violence is an issue not worthy of further time and discussion in Parliament is quite frankly disgraceful."

"However, we were extremely pleased and encouraged to hear that Labour Leader Iain Gray has committed to legislating on this issue should Labour win next year’s election. It won’t be lost on our members or other public facing staff, which political party really takes violence against workers seriously."

Meanwhile during the Sentencing Council’s consultation on sentencing guidelines for assaults the Association Of Convenience Stores (ACS) called for more clarity over aggravating factors and lower culpability clauses.

The draft guidelines state an aggravating factor for an assault includes “an offence committed against those working in the public sector or providing a service to the public”. ACS has called for it to be explicitly stated that this include retailers and retail outlets.

Concern has also been expressed that a ‘single blow’ by an offender counts as a lower culpability factor and could result in a lesser sentence.

James Lowman, ACS Chief Executive, said: “Retailers and their staff have the right to feel protected by the Criminal Justice System whilst at work. We want to ensure that the sentencing guideline for assaults against shop workers will deliver a greater penalty.”

“It is especially disturbing that a ‘single blow’ against a retailer constitutes a lower culpability factor and we urge the Sentencing Council to reconsider this point.”

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