Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton Constituency, has spoken in support of the Protection of Workers (Retail and Age-restricted Goods and Services) (Scotland) Bill during its Stage One debate. The bill is being proposed by Scottish Labour MSP for Edinburgh Southern Daniel Johnson and it seeks to protect local shop-workers from violence and abuse.
The bill would make abuse and violence against shop workers a criminal offense with an additional aggravation for abuse that comes as the result of shop workers enforcing age restriction law – such as the ‘Challenge 25’ rule.
The bill is also supported by USDAW trade union. Jackie Baillie has teamed up with USDAW on a number of occasions to raise awareness of the abuse that shop-workers currently face and to urge employers and the Scottish Government to take action.
Incidents of violence and abuse against shop-workers have risen sharply over recent years, according to the Scottish Retail Crime Survey. Many of the violent incidents are triggered by refusal of sale when a customer cannot prove their age when purchasing age-restricted products like alcohol or tobacco. Within her speech, Jackie Baillie highlighted the fact that abuse against shop workers in Scotland has more than doubled during the Covid-19 pandemic with 4% of these key workers having been physically abused while at work.
Jackie Baillie MSP said:
“I am delighted to support the bill at Stage One. This bill will provide much needed legal protection for shop workers and will help to ensure that there is absolutely zero tolerance for the abuse of shop workers.
“Abuse should not be part of a shop worker’s job and nobody should face the possibility of being threatened when they go to work. Nevertheless, abuse has become part of everyday working life for too many workers in the retail sector. They face regular threats and abusive behaviour from customers, and it is simply not good enough.
“The fact that shop workers – some of the hardest working key workers during the pandemic – have actually seen an increase in the verbal and physical abuse that they are receiving is absolutely outrageous. We have a duty of care to protect our shop workers and passing this bill would go a long way in ensuring they are adequately protected.
“Every employee has the right to feel safe in their workplace and those who are violent should feel the full force of the law.”