The survey shows that in the
past 12 months, 6% of shopworkers were subjected to violent attack,
37% were threatened with harm and a massive 70% had suffered verbal
abuse. While reported incidents of assault are slightly down,
incidents of threats and abuse have increased since last year.
Hannett, Usdaw General Secretary said:
"These figures are once
again quite shocking and show that Usdaw's Freedom from Fear campaign is needed
more than ever."
"Our campaign, working in
partnership with employers, government, police and other agencies
has made a real difference and the workplaces where we organise are
probably the safest in retail. However, the sad fact remains that
every minute of every working day a shopworker is verbally abused,
threatened with violence or physically attacked. It is simply
"We need to improve peoples'
attitude toward shopworkers to tackle the root of the problem. Too
many people still think working in retail is not a proper job and
that this somehow gives them the right to abuse shopworkers with
impunity. Shopworkers are mothers, sons, sisters, grandparents,
working hard to earn a living just like in any other workplace.
They should never have to fear going to work nor face violence,
threats or abuse for doing their job."
"Usdaw is holding an event
in Westminster today to impress on Members of Parliament the
seriousness of the issue and we will be inviting MPs to get behind
a checkout and experience for themselves the difficult situations
our members face every day."
"We will also leave MPs in
no doubt that we expect Lord Young's forthcoming review of Health
and Safety legislation to seriously address these real issues of
concern for our members. Shops are not the most dangerous of
workplaces but there are over a million shopworkers who can tell
Lord Young they are certainly not 'non-hazardous'."
1. The initial results quoted above are derived from 1,200
responses received from Usdaw members and other shopworkers between
July and September this year.
2. Over 2.9 million people work in retail. Assuming that only
60% of these are shopworkers directly serving the public, if the
survey results are extrapolated, it means there have been well over
a million incidents of assault, threats or abuse against the UK's
shopworkers in the last 12 months.
3. Usdaw's Freedom from Fear Campaign seeks to prevent violence,
threats and abuse against shopworkers. It has four main aims:
- to negotiate with employers for safety and security
improvements in stores.
- to campaign with Government for policies to help tackle
retail crime and anti-social behaviour in shopping
- to raise awareness with the shopping public that
violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers is unacceptable
- to give shopworkers the confidence to speak out and not
accept abuse as just a part of the job.
4. 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.