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Respect for Shopworkers - Usdaw lobbies AMs at the Welsh Assembly

Date: 16 November 2016 Members of the shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw have today lobbied Assembly Members in the Cardiff Bay Senedd during the annual Respect for Shopworkers Week.

Interim results of Usdaw’s Freedom From Fear Survey reveal that nearly one in ten shopworkers have been assaulted in the course of their duties, but almost a third of them didn’t report the incident. In the last twelve months nearly half of shopworkers were verbally abused and a quarter were threatened. The survey continues and full results will be released in the New Year.

Nick Ireland – Usdaw Divisional Officer says: “Violence, threats and abuse against workers is one of the great scourges of our society. The statistics are shocking and show that urgent action is required. We have been very pleased by the support our members received from AMs.

“Life on the frontline of retail can be pretty tough for many shopworkers. Usdaw’s Freedom From Fear Campaign seeks to tackle violence, threats and abuse against retail staff by working 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, because they don’t believe it will make a difference; so our strong message to shopworkers is ‘report it, to sort it’.”

Today’s respect event was sponsored by Jayne Bryant AM who says: “I was delighted to welcome Usdaw and their members working in retail to the Senedd. I join with Usdaw in asking the public to ‘keep their cool and respect shopworkers’. Retail staff have a crucial role in our communities and that role must be valued and respected.”

Welsh voices from the frontline: As part of Usdaw’s survey of violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers, respondents have the opportunity to feedback their experiences, here are some examples from Welsh shopworkers:

Verbal Abuse is a regular occurrence for shop workers. “Angry customers will tend to take it out on the till staff if something annoys them.” “One lady got very verbally abusive when her gas key didn't work even though I was trying to help.” “Till broke in the middle of a transaction so had to restart.  Man got very irate and started to insult the store and me personally.” “Customer got angry once because I gave the wrong change by accident, asked if I was stupid or something.”

Age Restricted Sales: The legal requirements placed on shopworkers around the sale of alcohol and other age restricted products is often a trigger for abuse and violence. “Mostly when you have to refuse someone for not having ID.  They can become aggressive and start calling you names.” “Called a bitch because I would not serve her cigarettes without ID.” “Called me a rude name and walked off because I wouldn't serve him without ID.”

Threats: “Refused drunk customer - became verbally threatening and threatening violence.” “Young lad had no ID, started swearing at me and calling me names - felt physically threatened by his demeanour.”

Notes for editors:

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.

Respect for Shopworkers Week 2016 takes place on 14-20 November. It is an annual event where shopworkers talk to the public about the problems of violence threats and abuse, asking customers to ‘keep their cool’. Part of the campaign will be encouraging shopworker not to take abuse as part of the job and report incidents to their manager.

Interim results of the Usdaw’s survey, based on 2,250 responses across the UK, show that over the last 12 months 44% were verbally abused and 25% were threatened. 8.4% have been assaulted, with 32% not reporting the incident.

For Usdaw press releases visit: www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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