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Last week I joined the shopworkers union, USDAW, at an event in Parliament to highlight the “Freedom From Fear” Campaign.

The “Freedom From Fear” Campaign seeks to prevent violence, threats and abuse directed at retail staff. Part of that is a call for a “Protection of Workers Bill” that would introduce a specific offence of assaulting a worker serving the public, thereby extending existing protections for police officers, immigration officers and Scottish emergency service workers.

Too often retail employees are confronted with violence, threats and abuse and it is really important we stand together and ask people to respect shopworkers.

I support Usdaw’s campaign for stiffer sentences and I’ve been very disappointed to see Tory and Liberal MPs, on five occasions in the current Parliament, combine to block this measure when proposed by Labour.

Making the assault of a worker serving the public an offence in its own right would simplify sentencing. Under existing guidelines, assaulting a worker is an aggravating factor, but there are concerns this is not being applied when decisions are made about prosecutions and sentencing.

I will continue to campaign with Usdaw for a change in the law to ensure that proper punishments are given out. We must give a clear message that assaulting workers who are serving the public is totally unacceptable.

I was pleased to discuss the issues with Usdaw General Secretary John Hannett who made the very valid point that often, in the course of their duties, shopworkers are expected to enforce the law. Whether that is preventing under-age purchases of products like knives, tobacco or alcohol, or detaining shoplifters until the police arrive, they can be put in real danger. Parliament has given shopworkers this duty to enforce the law, so Parliament should also provide the protection that they need.

Respect for Shopworkers

  Last week I joined the shopworkers union, USDAW, at an event in Parliament to highlight the “Freedom From Fear” Campaign. The “Freedom From Fear” Campaign seeks to prevent violence,...

On Tuesday Ed Miliband announced Labour’s long term goal to provide Britain’s young workforce with the skills they need to succeed and to have as many people go into apprenticeships as go into university.

I have always believed that this is vitally important as we have too many young people who seem to be forgotten about, with no real clear path for their career if they choose not to continue down the academic route after 16.

I was very pleased this week to be invited to Bolton College’s Jobs Fair which brought educators and employers together with young people who are looking for those alternative routes.

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I met students from the STEM department (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) who are getting real hands on experience and developing workplace skills that will not just be useful but they really enjoy. I look forward to visiting the new STEM building in the near future.

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I talked to companies like First Group who are exploring apprenticeships for the first time and seeing real value in developing new talent, and I met a young man from GTA construction who started as an apprentice and now sees real opportunities to further his career.

What inspired me most was seeing that so many young people are interested in developing their own skills and exploring new areas. We have so much untapped potential here in Bolton and I want to see more skilled work available and more training opportunities.

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I am grateful to Bolton College for letting me be a part of their event and for highlighting some of the opportunities that are available right now. I promise to keep working to make sure that there are many more opportunities available and that everyone in this town has a real chance to succeed.


Labour's commitment to young people
Labour's long term plan

Skills, Apprentices and Opportunities

On Tuesday Ed Miliband announced Labour’s long term goal to provide Britain’s young workforce with the skills they need to succeed and to have as many people go into apprenticeships...


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Northern Rail have just introduced new peak time prices in an evening, leading to huge price rises for some travellers. The most extreme example I’ve heard is a Wigan to Manchester Piccadilly return ticket jumping from £4.20 to £9.10 (that’s up 117 per cent!)

The new peak time runs from 16:01 to 18:29 Monday to Friday and affects all journeys within Greater Manchester, plus routes to Alderly Edge, Burscough bridge, Buxton, New Mills Central and Warrington.

Just weeks ago passengers were worrying about a 4% rise for the coming year, to have this change now will be absolutely devastating to some. I’ve heard from people who are worried about being stranded in town centres around the region waiting for peak time to end so they can afford to go home, and others have told me they simply won’t use the train any more.

The Government are talking about this as some sort of victory in the fight against overcrowding, but forcing people off the trains is simply disgraceful. We want better trains and more carriages, we want fewer people on the roads and more people using public transport.

I will be taking this up with the Government and with Northern Rail. How have you been impacted by the change? What difference will it make to you? Please get in touch and share your story, help me fight back.

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At Bolton Train station - Winter 2013 - Lobbying Northern and Transpennine Express to end overcrowding

Did your train journey double in price today?

Northern Rail have just introduced new peak time prices in an evening, leading to huge price rises for some travellers. The most extreme example I’ve heard is a Wigan to...

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