Absolutely. The Government could press pause on the Bill and bring the whole House together.
Research has shown that, during the pandemic alone, one in six of our shop workers have been abused on every shift, with 62% of UK shop workers experiencing verbal abuse and almost being threatened by a customer. There have been awful examples of attacks on other frontline workers, who have been spat at, punched, verbally abused and intimidated. Labour is calling for wider measures to protect the pandemic heroes, extending protections to shop workers as well as other frontline workers. There is widespread support for this, with the additional protection for shop workers supported by organisations such as the Federation of Independent Retailers and chief executive officers from a number of major retailers, including Aldi, the Co-op, Marks & Spencer, McColl’s, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and WHSmith.
I would also like to mention the work of the USDAW—the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers—which has been passionate in campaigning for its members to receive these vital protections and has generated well over 100,000 signatories on petition. We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to frontline workers for putting themselves at risk to keep our country running. We should repay some of that debt with decent legal protection as well as decent pay.