Voices From the Frontline: Revisited

A review of Usdaw’s Freedom From Fear Campaign, past, present and the agenda for the future.

Download: Voices from the Frontline: Revisited

Date Posted: 30 April 2008




I launched Usdaw's Freedom From Fear campaign in 2002 to highlight and tackle a rising tide of violence, threats and abuse against our members and all shopworkers.

This high profile campaign has attracted considerable support from the main retailers, their trade associations, Government and the general public. Our members and activists have worked hard to promote the campaign. The many street stalls, petition signatures, postcard campaigns and MPs' workplace visits have made a real difference.

Most importantly, the campaign gives a strong message to our members, 'Abuse is not a part of the job'. For too long shopworkers felt they had to put up with verbal abuse and threats. They also felt there was no real answer to violence against shopworkers.

I am proud to lead a campaign that very clearly says to our members that unacceptable behaviour from customers must not be a part of your daily working lives. I am also proud that our Union is there to support our members and challenge employers and the Government to deal with this problem. We brought employers to the table to ensure that the issues of violence, threats and abuse of retail staff were tackled together. Some employers were ready to embrace our campaign, but some were not aware of the issue initially. I am pleased to say that our campaign has significantly improved employers' support for a safe working environment in their stores.

The issues of violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers were not on the Government's agenda before we launched the Freedom From Fear campaign. That is no longer the case. The Government is now delivering important policies to help keep our members safe at work and tackle anti-social behaviour in the wider community. I am delighted that the Home Secretary has agreed to write a foreword for this document, which clearly demonstrates the strength of our partnership.

Now that we are six years into the campaign it is important that we reflect on what we have achieved and assess the priorities for our future campaigning. This document:

  • Reviews the Freedom From Fear Campaign so far.
  • Takes a snapshot of the current situation, using two substantial surveys.
  • Sets the campaigning agenda for the future.

I hope that this document inspires you to work with me, campaigning to prevent violent attacks, threatening behaviour and verbal abuse against shopworkers.

John Hannett
Usdaw General Secretary


Voices From the Frontline: Revisited was correct at date of publication April 2008.