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Gov urged to ‘go beyond warm words’ over violence and harassment protection in workplaces

THE government has been urged to “go beyond warm words” yesterday after vowing to ratify a UN treaty guaranteeing workers more protection from violence and harassment at work.

Retail workers’ union Usdaw called on the government to put its words into practice by supporting amendments to its Policing Bill in the House of Lords today, which will give shopworkers extra protection from abuse and violence.

Work and Pensions Minister Theresa Coffey said that the government will ratify the ground-breaking violence and harassment convention, setting international legal standards for preventing and responding to violence and harassment at work.

Ms Coffey said: “Nobody should be the target of violence and harassment simply for doing their job.” 

She said ratification would mean “introducing explicit protections for employees from harassment by third parties, for example customers or clients.”

For more than a year Usdaw has been campaigning inside and outside Parliament for laws to give more protection to shopworkers from increasing violence and abuse from customers, but legislation has been blocked by the government. 

Usdaw said that ratifying the treaty is “a step in the right direction, and Wednesday is the perfect opportunity” to put the words into practice.

A union spokesperson said: “Protections for shopworkers are contained in two amendments to the government’s Policing Bill which are before the House of Lords.

“We are urging the government to go beyond warm words and back the amendments.”

The convention was produced two years ago by the International Labour Organisation, an arm of the UN.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Ratifying the convention is a welcome statement of intent, it now comes down to the action and enforcement that follows.”

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