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Fiona Comments – Respect for Shopworkers Week

Speaking ahead of Black Friday on 27 November when for the last two years there has been mayhem in some stores as bargain hunting turns into a frenzy Fiona Mactaggart MP for Slough asked constituents to be considerate to shop workers this Christmas, she said:

“Christmas shopping can be very stressful, but if shoppers find it hard just think of the experience of people on the other side of the counter.  You may feel desperate for a bargain or to get an item that someone you care about has set their heart on, but please think of the stress and unpleasantness which can result for people working in our shops who are often on low pay and work long hours.  If you see someone abusing them please try to prevent it.”

Interim results of the shopworkers union Usdaw’s latest Freedom From Fear survey shows that 1 in 5 assaulted shopworkers did not report the incident to their employer, there has been a slight decline in the number of incidents of violence, threats and abuse, but the overall figures are still unacceptably high. Over 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. Shopworkers trade union leader John Hannett is concerned that so many shopworkers are suffering in silence

Today is the start of Respect for Shopworkers Week when thousands of activists are out campaigning in supermarkets and town centres, asking customers to keep their cool and respect shopworkers.

John Hannett – Usdaw General Secretary 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.  We have been talking to retailers about organising their events to maximise safety and security for staff and customers alike.”