Retail trade union Usdaw has called on the government to respond to a new report which highlights the cost to business and staff of violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers.
The ‘Retail violence: abused and attacked at work’ report by broadcast journalist Jamie Long highlights the 9% increase in violence and abuse against shop workers every day of the year, for the period 2018/19.
Paddy Lillis, Usdaw General Secretary said violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers are “unfortunately nothing new”, as this report sets out, but was “shocked” to see that incidents have doubled during the coronavirus pandemic.
He said: “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. 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.”
Lillis added: “Retail staff have a crucial role in our communities and that role must be valued and respected.
“Shops are the cornerstone of our communities, but they can only operate with staff, who deserve the protection of the law. We continue to work with retailers to improve health and safety and we call on customers to stay calm and respect shopworkers.”
The news comes as Usdaw has released statistics revealing 70% of shop workers are experiencing anxiety and have raised concerns with their employers amid the Covid-19 crisis.
The statistics revealed that 39% of the 7,357 members surveyed, primarily essential workers in shops, distribution warehouses, road transport or work as delivery drivers have had Covid-19 related absences from work, because of illness, self-isolating or shielding.
Usdaw has also previously announced that one in six shop workers have suffered abuse on every shift, during the coronavirus pandemic.