Co-op asks MSPs to Support ‘Protection of Workers’ Bill

Co-op’s managing director for Scotland, Derek Furnival, has written to members of the Scottish Parliament to ask them to support a new bill which will provide greater protection for shopworkers in the face of ever increasing levels of abuse and violence

Daniel Johnson MSP’s Protection of Workers Bill, for retail and age-restricted goods and services, is due to complete its third and final stage in the Scottish Parliament today.

If passed it will mean assaulting, threatening, abusing, obstructing or hindering a retail worker who is doing their job will become a new offence.

Furthermore, if committed because the worker is applying an age-restriction, by asking for proof of age, it will count as aggravation potentially making the offence more serious.

Co-op, which has 360 stores and 6,000 colleagues in Scotland has been a long-standing campaigner for greater protection for all retailer workers. The convenience retailer has seen a 36% increase in incidents of anti-social behaviour, verbal abuse and physical assaults during lockdown (January – October 2020) compared to the same period in 2019, with one in four frontline workers subjected to violence, abuse or anti-social behaviour.

Derek Furnival, Co-op’s Divisional Managing Director for Scotland, said: “Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our colleagues who work tirelessly within communities to provide essential food and groceries – and never more so than over the past ten months. We strongly supports Mr Johnson’s proposed bill and believe that any law would make Co-op colleagues in Scotland feel safer and more protected as they go about their daily working lives. We hope the country’s MSP’s will do the right tomorrow (Tuesday 19th January) by voting in support of this bill.” 

Paul Gerrard, Co-op’s Campaigns and Public Affairs Director who gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Scrutiny Committee in support of the Bill, last summer, added: “No one should have to face violence and abuse just for doing their job and we hope that Scotland will continue to lead the way in tackling violence against shopworkers by passing this into law tomorrow (Tuesday 19th January).”

Last September, Co-op CEO Jo Whitfield wrote to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, along with the CEOs of 22 other major retailers and industry bodies, asking him to give English and Welsh retail staff greater protection in the workplace. She stated that whilst retailers are spending a record £1.2billion on crime prevention measures to keep colleagues safe, the Government needs to play its part.

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