Jeff supports Respect for Shopworkers Week

The annual Respect for Shopworkers Week runs from 15-21 November this year. During the campaign week Usdaw reps, activists and officials are raising awareness of the year-round Freedom from Fear Campaign, talking to the public at street stalls and in shops to promote a message of ‘respect for shopworkers’.

Retail trade union Usdaw has today launched shocking statistics from their annual survey during the Respect for Shopworkers Week. Interim results from nearly 3,500 retail staff show that in the last twelve months:

  • 89% have experienced verbal abuse,
  • 64% were threatened by a customer,
  • 11% were assaulted.
  • 46% said they were not confident that reporting abuse, threats and violence will make a difference.
  • 7% of those who had been assaulted did not report the incident.

Usdaw is campaigning for a new protection of workers law, like the ground-breaking legislation that came into force in Scotland in August this year. The union continues to call on the Government to extend those protections to shopworkers across the rest of the UK. Jeff Smith, Labour MP for Manchester Withington, has supported this demand in Parliament.

Two amendments have been tabled in the House of Lords to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, by Labour shadow minister Lord Coaker and Conservative backbencher Baroness Neville-Rolfe. Usdaw is urging Peers to support the amendments at the forthcoming committee stage of the Bill.

Jeff said:

Violence and intimidation against shopworkers is completely unacceptable, but as Usdaw’s new statistics show, it is still all too common.

“Retail staff deliver an essential service for their communities, which we particularly saw during the most difficult moments of the pandemic. They deserve more support and to be treated with respect. It’s essential that the Government legislate to put those better protections in place.”

Paddy Lillis, Usdaw General Secretary said:

“It is shocking that 9 in 10 of our members working in retail are suffering abuse from customers, with far too many experiencing threats and violence. So it is extremely worrying that over half are not confident that reporting these issues will make any difference.

“The new protection of workers law in Scotland is welcome and we urge the UK Government to extend it to England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Retail staff across the UK have a crucial role in our communities and that role must be valued and respected, they deserve the protection of the law.

“This is a hugely important issue for our members and they are saying loud and clear that enough is enough. The alarm bells are ringing and it is time for the Government to make a difference. They can act quickly by supporting the Lords protection of workers amendments to their flagship policing bill.”

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