15 Nov 2015

Freedom from Fear

I recently had the privilege of speaking at a meeting on Freedom from Fear organised by Usdaw the shopworkers union. Sharing the platform with me was Anne Wills an Usdaw member from Johnstone. As an Usdaw activist Anne has been at the forefront of the campaign to give respect and protection to shopworkers. It’s an appalling fact that over 2,500 shopworkers are attacked every year in Scotland just for doing their job. And it gets worse at this time of year as the shopping frenzy increases in the run up to Christmas. Some people think it’s acceptable to abuse, threaten and attack shopworkers. And it’s not helped in shops and stores which sell alcohol, where the Scottish Government demands that shopworkers act as agents of the government by demanding proof of age for alcohol sales. And if shopworkers don’t do this, they can be prosecuted. I’ve personally seen how shopworkers have had to cope with customers losing the rag because they were asked for proof of age. Some years ago when Labour introduced the Emergency Workers legislation to give added protection to medical staff who were attacked doing their job, the SNP supported this. And in government SNP Ministers have extended that protection to yet more medical staff. So why then does the SNP Government refuse to give that same protection to these shopworkers who are required by law to challenge the public on proof of age? Why are they less deserving of our support and protection? I’ve heard SNP politicians offer warm words of support to Usdaw members for the Freedom from Fear campaign. What shopworkers need is action and protection in law. Otherwise the politicians are turning a blind eye to the abuse and assaults. It’s time for the SNP Government to think again.