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Usdaw urges shoppers to 'Keep your cool at Christmas'

Date: 08 November 2010 Monday 8 November marks the start of Respect for Shopworkers Week 2010 and during the week members of the shopworkers union Usdaw will be holding campaign events across the country to urge shoppers to 'Keep your cool at Christmas'.

Usdaw's annual Freedom from Fear survey revealed that over a million shopworkers were assaulted, threatened or abused in the past year. The survey showed that 6% of shopworkers were subjected to violent attack, 37% were threatened with harm and a massive 70% had suffered verbal abuse.

John Hannett, Usdaw General Secretary said:

"Our campaign stalls will highlight to shoppers the problems shopworkers can face, particularly during the festive season, a period when incidents of verbal abuse can increase dramatically. In the run up to Christmas, customers are stressed, stores are really busy and sometimes things can boil over. That's why we are asking shoppers to show respect for shopworkers and to 'Keep your cool at Christmas'."

"Nearly half of all incidents of abuse result from shopworkers asking customers for proof of age ID or refusing a sale of an age-restricted product such as alcohol. We'll also be letting shoppers know that shopworkers asking for ID are only doing their job and protecting themselves from a fine, possible criminal prosecution or disciplinary action from their employer."

Notes for Editors:

  1. Usdaw members will be holding stalls at shopping centres, supermarkets and convenience stores throughout the country. Members will staff brightly coloured stalls decorated with 'Keep your cool at Christmas' signs and balloons, with many also wearing Santa hats and 'Keep your cool at Christmas' t-shirts. Shoppers will be given advice about how they can keep their cool at Christmas and they will also be given specially produced scratch cards designed to show how difficult it can be to tell if someone is old enough to buy an age-restricted product such as alcohol or tobacco.
  2. Figures from Usdaw's age-restricted sales survey, first released last week, revealed that over 75% of shopworkers have experienced problems asking for proof of age ID from customers and that most shopworkers are worried about facing criminal prosecution or disciplinary action from their employer if they get a decision about a sale wrong. A shocking 65% of shopworkers have been subjected to verbal abuse asking for ID, while over 16% have been threatened with violence and more than 2% have actually been physically assaulted.
  3. Shopworkers face an £80 Fixed Penalty Notice (on-the-spot fine) for a first offence of selling alcohol to someone under-age with a court appearance and/or fine of up to £5,000 for subsequent offences. Most fines are in the region of £500.
  4. Shopworkers who fail to ask for age identification from anyone they think is under-25 also run the risk of being disciplined by their employer for not following the 'Think 25' policy that most responsible retailers have adopted.
  5. For further information on Usdaw's Freedom from Fear campaign and Respect for Shopworkers week visit: www.usdaw.org.uk/ourcampaigns/freedomfromfear.aspx
  6. Usdaw (the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fourth biggest trade union, with over 390,000 members. Usdaw is the country's fastest growing trade union; membership has increased by more than 15% in the last four years and by over a quarter 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.

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