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    Usdaw to raise challenges facing retail at Labour Party conference

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    A shop workers union is set to raise the challenges that high streets are facing currently such as rise in assault, abuse and violent shoplifting

    Retail trade union Usdaw has a delegation of reps and officials attending the annual conference of the North West Regional Labour Party at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool over this weekend. The union has a submitted a motion on calling for action to tackle the challenges facing retail and our high streets.

    Usdaw is calling on Labour to ensure that the importance of the retail sector is reflected in Labour’s industrial strategy. The union is demanding the party to deliver the strongest possible legal protections for frontline retail workers as soon as possible and establish a taskforce to deal with the challenges of new technology and automation as a matter of urgency, to protect jobs and to make sure that the economy is well positioned to adapt.

    Mike Aylward, Usdaw Regional Secretary for the North West, says, “Retail is at the heart of our communities, but is facing growing challenges. The economic environment, combined with an inadequate employment rights framework, has put many jobs at risk. This week the Chancellor contributed nothing to resolving these longstanding issues.

    “Usdaw’s ‘Freedom From Fear’ Campaign has also highlighted the horrific level of abuse and violence faced by frontline retail workers, with 31 per cent of incidents linked to shoplifting. The latest police recorded crime figures show a continuing trend of increases in shoplifting incidents across the North West. It is clear that organised crime gangs are targeting the sector, looting stores and assaulting retail workers.

    “The increased use of technology across the sector is significantly impacting working practices, not just in terms of online retail but also the growing digitisation in stores. When taken together, retail workers are facing unprecedented challenges affecting every aspect of their working lives.

    “We welcome Labour’s commitment to increasing security of work in the New Deal, including strengthening redundancy rights and protections, and to implementing a specific offence of abusing, threatening or assaulting a retail worker.”

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