John Hannett – Usdaw General Secretary says: “Theft from shops can often be a trigger for violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers, so the rising trend in incidents of shoplifting is extremely worrying for our members. Is this a consequence of the Conservative seven-year record on retail crime? Since 2010 there are 20,000 fewer police, shoplifting is rising, but fewer shop thieves are going to court.
“We have long been concerned that theft from shops is not taken seriously and sometimes regarded as a victimless crime against large companies, but the reality is very different. Only this week it was reported that the Metropolitan Police are scaling back on investigations into theft from shops as they try to save £400m. Is this a green light to shop thieves, therefore leaving our members further exposed? Shop theft is a very serious issue that leads to abuse of shopworkers.
“Life on the frontline of retail can be pretty tough for many. We launched our Freedom From Fear Campaign in the face of growing concerns amongst retail workers about violence, threats and abuse. The campaign works with retailers to promote respect and make workplaces safer for staff and customers alike and we need the help of the police to deliver that aim.
“There needs to be government action to protect shopworkers. I have been shocked by the leniency of some of the sentences for assault of workers. Some violent criminals charged with assault do not get to court and those who are can receive derisory sentences. In other cases the offender isn’t even charged and victims are left feeling that no one cares that they were assaulted.
“The Conservatives in government have repeatedly blocked attempts to stiffen penalties for those who assault shopworkers. We need the police to respond to incidents, investigate and prosecute theft from shops. Around 200 shopworkers are assaulted every day and it is time to say enough is enough. Retail staff are an important part of our communities and their role must be valued, respected and protected.”
Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with over 430,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 17% 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.
Sign up to the Usdaw Respect Thunderclap to spread the message with your social media contacts at: www.usdaw.org.uk/FFFThunderclap
Respect for Shopworkers Week 2017 takes place on 13-19 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 shopworkers not to take abuse as part of the job and report incidents to their manager.
Results of the Usdaw’s 2016 survey, based on 2,805 responses, show that over the last 12 months 50% were verbally abused and 29% were threatened. 8% have been assaulted, with 32% not reporting the incident. The 2017 survey is currently being compiled.
EDM 384 - USDAW FREEDOM FROM FEAR CAMPAIGN: That this House applauds the members and representatives of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers for their Freedom From Fear campaign, which seeks to bring together employers, the police and local authorities to tackle the scourge of violence, threats and abuse against public-facing workers; further applauds the work of all trade unions in running campaigns that seek to protect their members at work; is appalled that public-facing workers are assaulted, threatened or abused; and calls on the Government to recognise the need to extend provisions in law to support the protection of shop workers by imposing an additional penalty for those who assault workers in the course of their duties. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2017-19/384
For Usdaw press releases visit: www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion