One in 10 shopworkers have been assaulted and nearly one-third don’t report it, according to a survey by Usdaw.
To highlight this issue, the shopworkers’ trade union is running its annual ‘Respect for Shopworkers Week’ this week (from November 14 – 20).
The union’s reps and members are organising 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 latest ‘Freedom From Fear’ survey, based on 2,250 responses, show that over the last 12 months 44% shopworkers were verbally abused and a quarter were threatened. In addition, 8.4% were assaulted, with 32% not reporting the incident. The survey continues and full results will be released in the New Year.
Usdaw general secretary John Hannett said: “Life on the frontline of retail can be pretty tough for many shopworkers and there is still a lot to do to help protect them.
“We launched our ‘Freedom From Fear’ campaign in the face of growing concerns amongst retail staff about violence, threats and abuse. The campaign works with employers to promote respect and make shops safer for staff and customers alike.
“All too often criminals who assault staff are not even sent to court. Those who are, can receive derisory sentences. In other cases, where the offender isn’t even charged, victims are left feeling that no one cares that they were assaulted. That can lead to staff not reporting incidents and our strong message is ‘report it, to sort it’.
“It’s time for the government to act by providing stiffer penalties for those who assault workers; a simple stand-alone offence that is widely recognised and understood by the public, police, CPS, the judiciary and most importantly criminals.
“This week our members are out campaigning on high streets, in shopping centres and stores; talking to the public and asking them to ‘keep their cool and respect shopworkers’. Retail staff have a crucial role in our communities and that role must be valued and respected.”
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK’s fourth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with over 435,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 10% in the last five years and by nearly a third in the last decade.
Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.