The survey of 1,105 Usdaw members working in retail was conducted a week after the curfew came in. 47% said they had been impacted by the 10pm curfew with increased instances of the following (they could tick more than one answer):
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says:
- 27% Overcrowding that makes social distancing difficult.
- 28% Anti-social behaviour.
- 28% Abuse of store staff.
- 24% Refusing drunk customers (as the law requires).
- 15% Problems with verifying age.
“Yet another Usdaw survey shows that some people have responded to an appalling national pandemic by abusing shop workers. Usdaw supports measures that restrict transmission of Covid-19, but that will not be achieved by filling shops with late-night revellers, putting our members’ safety at risk.
“Sale of alcohol has always been a major flashpoint for violence, threats and abuse against shop workers; whether it’s age-identification or refusing a sale to someone who is already drunk, both legal requirements. This survey shows that the 10pm curfew has created additional problems for a significant number of shop workers.
“So we need the Government, local authorities and the police to be aware of these triggers for anti-social behaviour and work with retailers to tackle the problem.”
Voices from the frontline -
These are some of the comments that respondents shared when completing the survey:
Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers)
- “After 10pm it is mayhem. Had nearly 40 people trying to get into our store at once.”
- “I had to refuse sales to two separate groups of people as they quite clearly had already consumed too much alcohol. This resulted in abuse from one of the groups.”
- “Loads of people come in after 10pm to buy a load of booze to continue drinking. Most aren’t wearing masks cause they’re drunk. The other people who come in after 10pm are either shoplifters or people who think Covid is a hoax.”
- “I am situated in a store in a major city train station and we constantly get drunks in at that time being loud, rude, obnoxious and in some cases abusive. We have a security guard at that time on Saturday night but the rest of the week we are left to fend for ourselves.”
- “There has been a definite increase in anti-social behaviour in the store where I work. Lots of people under the influence of drink becoming abusive. More people in the store just after 10pm with very little or no social distancing.”
- “As soon as the local pubs shut, intoxicated customers come into store and attempt to purchase alcohol. They’re often loud, boisterous and do not wear face masks. When younger customer are asked for ID, they often become abusive towards staff. Our store is in a local lockdown area, and it is obvious that these customers are not following social distancing laws as they purchase alcohol for parties on private premises with different households mixing.”
- “Thefts have increased between 9 and 10pm simple by a large amount.”
- “Couldn’t close the store on time, people refused to leave this is happening in particular Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings.”
- “Pub customers coming in to use toilets when pubs have closed. People bringing bottles of alcohol in they bought from pub. Buying more alcohol. As store is open till midnight.”
- “Fight outside in car park when leaving about 50 youths mostly drunk.”
- “Alcohol aisle packed with customers that came out of the pubs. Less than 2 members of staff left to attend 12 self-scans and 1 till. Way too overcrowded no social distancing whatsoever.”
- “It makes you scared to go into work when you see your work colleague being threatened and abused.”
- "Had to call the police after a colleague was assaulted in the foyer when escorting a drunk ‘customer’ off the premises.”
- “Coming in the store because quote“ the f*****g pub has closed “ obviously some drunk some merry!!!!”
- “Customers banging on the door when we have put it on exit only to reduce queues and implement social distancing shouting at us to open up.”
- “Too many customers in the aisle that I am working in, they push in to grab products from the shelves, whilst I am working on them, which shows that social distancing rules are being ignored, despite regular announcements.”
- “They feel it's too early to come home, so use the supermarket to buy alcohol, hang around, make a noise. Create if they are asked for ID. They also like to hang around the car park (some are driving! And doing wheelies etc), or staggering on to a nearby housing estate making a racket. Also, running in front of us driving home and thinking it's highly amusing.”
- “Drunk, rowdy crowds of young people coming in with taxis waiting outside giving added pressure.”
- “I was called a Nazi after refusing a purchase. Given a Nazi salute.”
- “Broken bottles and smashed eggs across multiple aisles which became highly hazardous. Security guard was physically assaulted.”
- “Now I dread working Fridays. I have never felt such a lack of respect from the public despite the fact we are still key workers!”
- “A handful of incidents have already happened due to the 10pm curfew, for example, sexist language directed to staff, threats when not being served and groups that have purchased alcohol hanging around outside consuming it on the street.”
- “Store is in a small village so when pubs turn out everyone tries to come onto store and purchase alcohol.”
- “Had to use the store’s panic button due to behaviour. Lots of drunken customers very abusive to us.”
is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with over 400,000 members. Membership has increased by more than one-third over the last couple of decades. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.
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