Usdaw’s annual survey shows 22% of staff do not report violent attacks

Tim Lezard Europe, UK, Retail,
Usdaw Freedom From FearShopworkers are suffering in silence, as interim results of Usdaw’s latest Freedom From Fear survey show that 22% did not report a violent attack by a customer to their employer.
This week, Respect for Shopworkers Week, when thousands of Usdaw activists are out campaigning in supermarkets and town centres, asking customers to keep their cool and respect shopworkers.

The union has released interim results of its annual survey of shopworkers, which shows a slight decline in the number of incidents of violence, threats and abuse, but the overall figures are still shockingly high.

More than half of shopworkers were verbally abused in the last year, with more than 10% on a weekly or daily basis, 3 in 10 were threatened with violence and over 2% were assaulted.

Usdaw general secretary John Hannett said: “All too often shopworkers encounter violence, threats and abuse for simply doing their job. So it is very concerning that one in five do not report something as serious as a violent attack to their employer.

“Anecdotally we are told that sometimes staff don’t feel it would make any difference if they do report incidents or that it’s just a part of being in a frontline job, dealing with the public and the problems that sometimes throws up.

“My message to shopworkers is very clear, abuse is not a part of the job. We are talking to employers to ensure that reporting systems are easily accessible and will make a real difference to the protection. However it is really important that staff do tell their manager when they experience violence, threats or abuse. If they report it we can help sort it.

“This week our campaign stalls will highlight to shoppers the problems shopworkers can face, particularly during the festive season, a period when incidents of verbal abuse can increase dramatically. In the run up to Christmas, customers are stressed, stores are really busy and sometimes things can boil over. That’s why we are asking shoppers to show respect for shopworkers and to ‘keep your cool at Christmas’.

“There is the additional concern of Black Friday on 27 November. The last two years have seen unprecedented scenes of mayhem in some stores as bargain hunting turns into a frenzy. We have been talking to retailers about organising their events to maximise safety and security for staff and customers alike.”


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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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