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The impact of the riots on retail workers

Date: 11 August 2011 Usdaw applauds the efforts of the shopworkers who have made special efforts to keep shops open for local communities during the recent riots.

Damage to shops and looting has been a common feature in the violence. Usdaw, the Trade Union representing shopworkers, is calling on the Police and employers to make every effort to ensure that retail workers, customers and local residents are not put at risk.

The Union recognises that this is a very difficult time and many retailers have made every effort to ensure that staff are not put at risk. We are currently working with retail businesses to minimise the risk to staff and customers.

The Union welcomes the fact that many retailers are urgently reviewing their security measures at this time. Some examples of steps that employers can take include:-

  1. Communicate with staff at the earliest opportunity.
  2. Ensure that alarms, CCTV, protective barriers and panic buttons are in good working order and that staff are aware of how to use them.
  3. Provide extra security where appropriate.
  4. Implement procedures to prevent cash from building up in tills and ensure that banking or cashing up procedures are carried out by specialist security staff only.
  5. Review shift patterns to ensure adequate staffing levels - in particular, ensuring that staff are not left vulnerable by working on their own.
  6. Ensure that rigorous incident reporting measures are in place and followed at all times.
  7. Check fire safety procedures are operational.

Advice to Members

We would urge our members to familiarise themselves with their company procedures for dealing with thefts and other incidents, and we remind our members that they should never put themselves in physical danger to prevent shoplifting, looting or damage to property.

Any incident of violence or intimidation should be reported immediately in line with company procedures.

Store Closures

In the event of rioting or the threat of trouble, employers should seriously consider closing their premises in order to protect staff and customers. Usdaw is urging employers to pay workers the full wage for the contracted hours in any business that has to close early.

If a business is unable to open, either due to damage or as a precaution, Usdaw expects employers to make every effort to find an alternative place of work for employees to report to. In the event that no alternative can be found, the Union would expect staff to be paid their usual contracted hours.

Transport Problems and Travelling To and From Work

Workers have encountered problems travelling to and from work in certain areas due to traffic delays and disruption to public transport.

Usdaw is calling on employers to take into consideration these transport problems. Workers through no fault of their own may be delayed in their journeys to work and may need to finish work early in order to get home in reasonable time.

During this difficult time, Usdaw would urge employers to pay workers for the full contracted hours even if workers, for legitimate reasons, get to work late or have to leave early.

Safety of Workers and Customers - the Number One Priority

Usdaw members have shown that they are committed to communities having access to local shops. Where possible, Usdaw members have ensured that shops continue to trade and that deliveries have been made to these shops.

Usdaw is calling on retailers to fully support their staff by making the safety of their employees and customers their number one priority.

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