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Violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers are on the increase says Usdaw annual survey

Date: 24 September 2018 Shopworkers’ trade union leader Paddy Lillis has today called for Government action to stem a rising tide of violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers.
Usdaw’s latest survey results should that two-thirds of shopworkers were verbally abused last year, 42% were threatened and there were over 265 assaults every day. This represents a 25% increase in abuse and assaults and threats are up by 38%

Usdaw is urging MPs to vote for an amendment to the Offensive Weapons Bill that will make it a specific offence to obstruct a shopworker in their duty to enforce the law on the sale of offensive weapons.

Speaking at a joint Usdaw and Co-operative Party fringe meeting at Labour’s Annual Conference in Liverpool, Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “Abuse, threats and violence against shopworkers is a growing problem and a day-to-day reality for far too many workers employed in shops, supermarkets and convenience stores across the UK.

“What is clear, from talking to, consulting with and surveying our members is that abuse and violence against shopworkers is on the rise. Usdaw’s annual survey of shopworkers shows a 25 per cent increase in violence. The British Retail Consortium reported a doubling of violence in their annual retail Crime Survey.

“There is an epidemic of abuse and violence against the people who serve us in the shops. Shopworkers are members of our communities, they are our brothers and sisters, our sons and daughters, our next door neighbours. They deserve better. They deserve to be treated with respect. They deserve to be protected from violence.

“Usdaw is bringing the everyday accounts of shopworkers who experience abuse, threats and violence to the attention of MPs and policymakers. We need the Government to listen and we need action.  We need a specific offence introduced for assaulting a shopworker who is simply enforcing the legal rules and regulations and we need employers to take safety and security improvements seriously. Even in this age of austerity, it is unacceptable for police forces to be asking shopworkers to detain thieves.

“At the moment, the Offensive Weapons Bill is progressing through Parliament and it will reach Report Stage in October. We support the restrictions on the sale of offensive weapons, some communities are being terrorised by knife crime and acid attacks, but we want the Offensive Weapons Bill to be amended to include additional measures to protect shopworkers.

“David Hanson MP has tabled an amendment which would make it a specific offense to assault a shopworker. We hope the Government listens to our concerns and accepts changes to the Bill,

“Usdaw, through our Freedom From Fear campaign, will continue to raise awareness with the public that abuse against workers is unacceptable and give workers the confidence to speak out and report abuse.”

Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with around 430,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 28% over the 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.

Usdaw's report of violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers in 2017: www.usdaw.org.uk/FFF17
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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The official website of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers