Coming Together to Support Our Retail Colleagues
Published 20 Sep 2020 in Society Announcements
Our chief executive, Phil Ponsonby, has today joined leaders from some of the UK’s biggest retailers in writing to the Government to call for greater protection for our retail colleagues.
The letter, addressed to the Prime Minister, outlines unified support for Alex Norris’ Private Members Bill and requests that time is found for the Bill to be passed through Parliament.
Phil commented: “While we know that the vast majority of people recognise the importance of retail workers, and the service they provide to local communities, the levels of abuse and violence directed towards those colleagues across the retail sector continues to rise. There is a clear need for more effective legislation to increase the level of protection for those workers, and we join many other retailers and Usdaw in urging the Government to support Alex Norris’ bill.”
The Rt. Honourable Boris Johnson MP
Office of the Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
18 September 2020
Dear Prime Minister
Retail workers have been playing a vital role in helping the nation cope with the Covid-19 pandemic. That includes making sure we can all access food and necessities, dispensing prescriptions, supporting our communities through food and charitable donations and providing crucial financial services and the vital technology needed to keep the nation connected, to work from home and to home-school children. Those same workers are now kick starting an economic recovery in the UK and working tirelessly to ensure customers can return safely to the high street.
Yet at the same time those retail workers have faced an ever-rising tide of abuse, threats and violence. During lockdown, the number of physical assaults on staff in one retailer alone went up by 56%. It is now part of the job to face this daily torrent of abuse and threats and we do not believe that this is acceptable and urge you to act.
As the leaders of some of the biggest retail businesses in the UK, we are calling on the Government to provide effective legal protection for them – our colleagues - from abuse and violence. We welcome the Government’s recent response to the call for evidence, however the supportive words from the Home Secretary now need to be met with decisive action.
In partnership with our colleagues on the front-line, with USDAW and with a cross-party coalition of MPs, we support Alex Norris’ Private Members Bill to provide that greater protection for our colleagues. This united response from business leaders, trade unions and frontline workers should demonstrate the need for these additional protections.
We believe there is a clear and broad-based consensus behind this Bill, and we ask that the Government acts now to support this important Bill and find time for it to pass through Parliament.