Black Friday events in 2013 and 2014 saw a two-thirds increase in incidents of verbal abuse, threats and violence against retail staff. Usdaw has since successfully worked with employers to minimise abuse in recent years, but the union continues to be wary in light of recent increases in incidents.
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says:
“Our members have had real concerns about Black Friday. After two years of unprecedented scenes of mayhem in some stores, as bargain hunting turned into frenzy, we discussed safety issues with retailers. They responded positively by organising their events to maximise safety and security for staff and customers alike. Consequently recent years have been quieter and more respectful, but we continue to monitor the situation.
“We are aware that Christmas shopping has started earlier this year because of customer fears of stock shortages, so that could drive higher footfall in stores this Black Friday. We know that when stores are busy and customers are stressed, things can boil over and shoppers can become abusive or worse.
“Incidents of violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers are already worryingly high. Interim figures from this year’s Usdaw survey reveal that nine in ten of our members working in retail suffered abuse from customers, with far too many experiencing threats and violence.
“Usdaw and retail employers are jointly calling on the Government for additional legal protections to prevent attacks on shopworkers and ensure that violent criminals are prosecuted. Unfortunately, despite cross-party support from MPs and Peers, the Government is yet to back protection of shopworkers legislation across the UK, similar to the new Scottish law that came into force in August.
“My Black Friday message to shoppers is clear. Enjoy your bargain hunting, keep your cool and respect shopworkers.”
Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers)
is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with over 380,000 members. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemical industry and other trades.
Interim results of the Usdaw’s 2021 survey
, based on 3,464 responses, show that: 89.26% were verbally abused, 64.46% were threatened. 21.59% shopworkers had been assaulted during their career. 10.82% had been assaulted this year. Asked “On a scale of 1-10 how confident are you that reporting abuse, threats and violence will make a difference” 46.35% scored less than five out of ten. 7.35% of those who’d been assaulted didn’t report it. The final results of the survey will be published in 2022.
Usdaw’s Freedom from Fear Campaign
seeks to prevent violence, threats and abuse against workers by engaging the public, shopworkers and the Government. www.usdaw.org.uk/Campaigns/Freedom-From-Fear
Protection of Workers (Retail and Age-restricted Goods and Services) (Scotland) Act 2021: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2021/6
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news
and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion