Jeff meets local Co-op workers in support of Usdaw’s ‘Respect for Shopworkers’ campaign

This week, Jeff Smith MP met with managers and staff at the Didsbury Co-op store to hear about their experiences as key workers during the pandemic.

This comes as part of the National Respect for Shopworkers Week currently taking place, 16-22 November.

Throughout Covid-19, retail workers have stepped up to ensure that the country continued to be able to access food, despite the risks they have faced from being in such a public-facing role.

Unfortunately, while most customers have been grateful for this service, some people have reacted badly to social distancing measures and other restrictions enforced by the staff in order to keep shoppers safe. This has led to retail workers experiencing verbal abuse, threats and physical attacks.

New Usdaw statistics from a survey of over 2,000 retail staff have shown that so far this year:

  • 76% say abuse has been worse than normal during the Covid-19 pandemic
  • 85% of shopworkers have experienced verbal abuse
  • 57% were threatened by a customer
  • 9% were assaulted

In the first 6 months of 2020, the Co-op report that they have seen 30,000 violent or abusive incidents against staff across their 2,700 Co-op stores.

During Respect for Shopworkers Week 2020, Usdaw are joining shopworkers in asking the public to ‘keep their cool’. Usdaw are also encouraging all shopworkers not to take abuse as part of the job and report incidents to their manager.

The union has also launched a petition, calling for the Government to enact new legislation to better protect shopworkers. You can sign the petition here.

Jeff said:

“I was pleased to have the opportunity to meet some of our local shopworkers today, and to thank them for all of their hard work during the pandemic. Retail staff have delivered a crucial service during coronavirus, despite the risks to their personal safety. They deserve our support and respect, but too many are facing abuse in the workplace.

“Violence against shopworkers was already a problem before the pandemic, but as Usdaw’s new statistics show, Covid tensions have made the situation worse. It’s clear from speaking to Co-op staff today that more action is needed to keep them safe at work. In their response to Usdaw’s petition the Government have offered sympathy, but they need to be backing that up with tougher legislation.”

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