gray and red shopping carts
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

From alcohol to cigarettes to acid and knives, there are now over 50 types of products whose sale is restricted by law. It’s staff on the shop floor who we are expected to enforce those laws, yet far too often they have paid the price for providing this public service in the form of violence, threats and verbal and physical abuse from customers.

It’s simple: shopworkers are expected to enforce the law, and so we believe they should have further protection under the law – just as a range of public servants from police to paramedics now have.

The Co-operative Party has long campaigned to enshrine this protection for shopworkers into law, and alongside Daniel Johnson MSP and our partners in the wider co-operative and trade union movements, we’ve been able to secure further legal protections for shopworkers in Scotland. But so far, the Government in Westminster has demurred and delayed on providing that same protection for shopworkers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Thanks to my parliamentary colleagues on both sides of the house pressing this issue in the Commons, the Government promised to revisit the issue of protections for shopworkers when the the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Bill reached the House of Lords. Today, they have that chance as the Bill receives its Second Reading, and it now turns to us in the Lords to ensure the protection of shopworkers is secured into law.

There is a cross-bench support for giving our retail heroes, who did so much for us during the pandemic, the protections they need and deserve. We’re here and ready to work with the Government to get those protections passed. The Government can no longer delay this further whilst shopworkers are every day living in fear of enforcing the laws Parliament sets for them. The Government can’t let this opportunity pass them by, the time for action is now.

The Government has the real chance here to make a difference to the lives of shopworkers. They can use the return of the PCSC bill to finally secure stronger protections for shopworkers and tougher penalties against those who assault or threaten them, so no one – regardless of where they live – has to face abuse at work again.