The Scottish Retail Consortium has made a call for the “urgent need” of shopworker protection across the country.
It comes after the Scottish Parliament’s Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee has announced its unanimous support for the general principles of the ‘Protection of Workers Bill’ after it published its Stage One report on the bill.
Commenting on the decision, Ewan MacDonald-Russell, head of policy at the SRC, said: “Retail workers have played a vital role in keeping Scotland fed and supplied during the last few months. During that time, they have had to take on new legal duties, such as managing physical distancing in stores, along with the myriad of existing responsibilities.”
Adding: “That has increased the pressure on those workers to enforce legislation on customers, creating further conflict and flashpoints which have led to workers being abused. That is always unacceptable and reaffirms the urgent case for legislation to protect shopworkers.
“The Economy Committee’s decision to support Daniel Johnson’s Bill at Stage One is a very positive step in that direction. There is still much to be done, but hopefully Scotland can lead the way in putting in place legal shopworker protections and helping to tackle the unnecessary and disgraceful abuse far too many retail workers face.”
On reports that the Scottish Government may legislate to make the wearing of face coverings mandatory for shoppers and customers of other consumer-facing businesses, MacDonald-Russell went on: “We’ve supported the government’s view that the voluntary wearing of face coverings by customers can make a positive contribution in conjunction with using hand sanitiser and maintaining physical distancing etiquette in stores.
“If government does proceed with a mandatory approach which compels shoppers to wear face coverings our members will seek to make it work. However, if the wearing of face coverings is to become compulsory – perhaps in tandem with a reduction in the two-metre physical distancing rule – then putting the burden of enforcement on shop workers risks creating new frictions or flashpoints with customers.
“It should be the authorities and not retail workers who should be responsible for enforcing any new mandatory approach. Retailers are already concerned about the growth in incidents of abuse towards staff, often triggered by shopworkers delivering and enforcing what the State increasingly asks of them, and despite record spending by retailers on crime prevention.”