I condemned the figures released by Usdaw – the Union of Shop, distributive and allied workers – showing that 1 in 10 shopworkers have been assaulted at work. But even more concerning Usdaw have learnt that nearly a third do not report it.
USDAW is the UK’s fourth largest union in the country representing 435,000 members nationwide. They represent members in:
• All major retailers
• Road transport
• Warehouses and distribution
• Food manufacturing
• Home shopping
• Plus a range of other industries.
These figures were released in line with Usdaw’s annual respect week, 14 – 20 November, is when the union’s reps and members organise awareness events as part of the Freedom from Fear Campaign, which seeks to prevent verbal abuse, threats and violent attacks at work.
Interim results of Usdaw’s Freedom From Fear Survey show that nearly half of shopworkers are verbally abused and a quarter are threatened. The survey continues and full results will be released in the New Year.
These figures are deeply concerning. Shopworkers are on the frontline of customer service and everyday try their utmost to provide a fantastic shopping experience for people. They should never face any abuse whilst in their workplace.
With Christmas fast approaching the shops will be getting busier and the shopping more frantic, but at this stressful time I urge everyone to think of others. Retail workers are doing their jobs and they deserve a safe environment in which to work.
There needs to be action to help protect staff. It is time for the Government to take action and provide stiffer penalties for those who assault workers. Four times Parliament has had the opportunity to better protect shopworkers, but each time the Government has blocked Labour’s attempts to bring forward a stand-along offence. I will continue to work with my parliamentary colleagues and Usdaw to make sure that the law is tightened and shopworkers are protected from violence.