Time to protect shop workers

MSP for South Edinburgh Daniel Johnson
Former retailer and Labour MSP for South Edinburgh Daniel Johnson.

ADDITIONAL protections under the law for retailers and other workers selling age-restricted products have been given a further push as the prospect of a members bill at the Scottish Parliament draws closer to reality.

Speaking at the Scottish Grocers Federation conference in November, Daniel Johnson MSP reiterated his intention to bring forward a members bill that would create a new offence protecting retailers from assault and violence when selling age-restricted products, with a consultation on the bill expected in the coming weeks.

Attempts to protect retail workers through legislation have been made in the past with a 2010 run at legislating in the Scottish parliament failing to get off the ground – a failure which Johnson has attributed to legislation which was too narrowly focused.

This fresh attempt has been conducted in conjunction with a number of industry stakeholders and Johnson has urged retailers to get involved with the process when the consultation launches.

“I have been very pleased by extremely positive initial conversations with retailers – both large and small,” he said.

“Indeed, the idea for this legislation has come out of close work between both the Scottish Grocers Federation and Usdaw – showing broad support for this proposal from both employers and employees.”

Johnson’s  latest push for his members bill coincides with the release of new figures from trade union Usdaw which found 34 Scottish shopworkers are assaulted each day.

Usdaw’s Freedom From Fear Survey found that over the last 12 months 70% of Scottish shopworkers were verbally abused, 42% threatened and 5% assaulted.

John Hannett, general secretary of Usdaw, said: “Many Scottish shopworkers are on the frontline of dealing with the public and that can mean they end up on the wrong side of a verbal assault.

“Violence, threats and abuse against workers is one of the great scourges of our society. The statistics are shocking and show that urgent action is required.”