10:30 p.m. December 31, 2021
The store manager of a cooperative in Gidea Park has received a British Empire Medal (BEM) for her services to the safety of food retail workers during the pandemic.
Claire Saunders, 41, was recognized on the Queen’s New Year’s Honors list for her campaign to increase workplace protections for store workers.
Claire told the Recorder she was “completely shocked” by the recognition, which comes after she became involved in a campaign on the issue of the safety of store workers after witnessing an increase in abuse and violence.
She said: “[It] was getting much worse towards myself and my colleagues to the point where I was physically assaulted.
âThe police wouldn’t come when we called them and even when they got to court, nothing was done. ”
According to a report by the British Retail Consortium, 455 incidents of violence and abuse against retail workers occur every day in the UK.
Claire said the problem worsened during the pandemic, she saw staff members spit on, physically assaulted and racially abused.
âIt got to the point where you felt in danger, and there’s not much the co-op can do,â she said.
She became a representative of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW) and began to lobby for tougher sentences for abuse of store workers.
The campaign was “completely new” to Claire, who said the experience was “absolutely crazy”.
She recalls: âAll of a sudden I was making a live BBC breakfast, I was talking to Keir Starmer – it was really intimidating at first, but because I’m so passionate, once I got there. come in, you couldn’t shut me up. ”
She also encouraged her Co-op colleagues across the country to share their stories of abuse as part of the #notpartofthejob campaign.
In early December, the government confirmed that it had tabled an amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill to make the attack on a person providing a service to the public a priority. aggravating circumstance.
This means that the crime in question would be considered more serious in the eyes of a judge and could result in stiffer sentences for anyone convicted.
The Queen’s Honors are awarded twice a year in June and at the end of the year for âmeritoriousâ actions, with around 300 BEMs awarded each year to community volunteers.