Shopworker’s trade union Usdaw has released shocking statistics from their survey which shows that on average UK shopworkers have been verbally abused, threatened or assaulted every week during the Coronavirus emergency.
The union’s 2019 survey found that average was nearly once a fortnight, so incidents have doubled in the last month.
While not all shopworkers suffer to this extent, some experience much worse with 1 in 6 being abused on every shift. Usdaw’s survey of 4,928 shopworkers shows that since the Coronavirus outbreak:
62% of UK shopworkers experienced verbal abuse,almost a third were threatened by a customer, 4% were assaulted, which amounts to more than 3,500every day when averaged across all retail workers.
Usdaw is calling for urgent action to tackle this growing problem.
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “We are shocked that violence, threats and abuse have doubled during this national emergency. At a time when we should all be working together to get through this crisis, it is a national disgrace that people working to keep food on the shelves for their local communities are being abused and assaulted.
“Urgent action is required. Our message is clear, abuse is not part of the job.
“Life on the frontline of retail is normally pretty tough for many shopworkers and has become much worse during the Coronavirus emergency. Shopworkers are on the frontline of feeding the country, providing an essential service in very difficult circumstances, working long hours in busy stores, facing abuse from customers and of course concerned they may contract Covid-19.
“The safety of our members is absolutely paramount, but they tell us that some of the shopping public are resisting social distancing measures in stores and can become abusive when asked to queue and maintain a two-metre gap. Our message to the public is there is no excuse for abusing shopworkers, please treat our members with the respect they deserve.
“So there needs to be action to help protect staff. We want the Government to legislate for 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. Retail staff have a crucial role in our communities and that role must be valued and respected, they deserve the protection of the law.
“Shops are the cornerstone of our communities, but they can only operate with staff, who clearly do not have the option to work from home. We continue to work with retailers to improve health and safety for staff. We also call on customers to stay calm and respect shopworkers.”