Falkirk East MSP Cathy Peattie has called on the Scottish Government to be more proactive in tackling violence against workers.
Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, she applauded trade union campaigns highlighting the abuse, threats and violence suffered by workers in shops, public services, and leisure facilities. These campaigns had contributed to a long-term drop in reported incidents in the UK as a whole, but in Scotland, there has been a 78 per cent increase in recorded incidents of violence and abuse during the past three years.
“It is concerning that the problem seems to be worse in Scotland, where four out of five shop workers have reported verbal abuse and two out of five have reported threats of violence in the past year.
Noting that there was clearly a problem with age-restricted sales, and that incidents could take the form of racist attacks, as had happened in her constituency, Cathy said that “the Scottish Government should look at its duty to encourage and provide better support through community safety plans.
“We need to take a partnership approach. Sting operations have their place, but a long-term solution depends on co-operation from retailers. Some retailers have been proactive in that – I congratulate the Co-op and Tesco on their participation – but others seem to be reluctant, and some were even in denial until the campaign highlighted the facts. I hope that those retailers will think seriously about their role in protecting their staff.”
Cathy pointed out that workers can also be subject to intimidation outside the workplace, and that there was growing problem of organised retail crime based in Scotland.
“The Scottish Government needs to pay more attention to those issues. I call on the minister to take early action and to consider the suggestions that have been made. It is important that we all challenge the kind of behaviour we are discussing; no one can say, “It’s nothing to do with me.” We need action, and the partnership that I spoke about earlier is important. I urge the Scottish Government to play a key role in that partnership and to work with trade unions and employers to make shops in Scotland safer places to go into.”