One in six shopworkers who suffer an assault don't report it, says Usdaw survey

Date: 08 October 2013 The shopworkers' Trade Union Usdaw has revealed interim results of their 2013 survey of violence threats and abuse against shopworkers.

The report of the experiences of 1,844 shopworkers from across the UK confirms a worrying trend of retail staff suffering attacks and not reporting the incidents.

The survey shows a welcome decrease in the number of victims of verbal abuse, which is down to just under half of shopworkers from 61% in 2012. Threats have come down from 36% to 34% but violent attacks have remained static at 4%, with one in six not reporting the assault. Over the last 10 years Usdaw has been working with employers on its Freedom From Fear campaign and figures reported annually in the British Retail Consortium Crime Survey have shown a steady improvement, but the survey confirms a high number of incidents go unreported. 

John Hannett – Usdaw General Secretary says: "For the last six years, Usdaw has surveyed shopworkers to collect information on the extent of violence and abuse they experience and to gauge their attitude towards the problem. Because of concerns about under-reporting this year, for the first time, we asked our members whether they reported what had happened to them.

"I was shocked to learn that 17% of shopworkers who were physically assaulted in the workplace did not report the incident, along with a third of those threatened and almost half of those who were verbally abused.

"This level of under-reporting of incidents is of great concern and my message to shopworkers is very clear, abuse is not a part of the job. We are encouraging our members to report all incidents of violence, threats and abuse to their managers and help get the issue tackled.

"At the heart of the Freedom From Fear Campaign is joint working with employers to make the workplace safer. Our message to shopworkers is: We can sort it - if you report it. We will be working with employers to make it easier for staff to report incidents and to ensure that action is taken to prevent violence threats and abuse."

Notes for editors:

Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fourth biggest and fastest growing Trade Union with over 431,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 17% in the last five years and by nearly a third 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.

Usdaw's Freedom From Fear Survey Report 2013, the interim results of shopworkers experiences over the last year, from the first 1,844 responses, are:

  • Victims of verbal abuse:     49%
  • Shopworkers threatened:   34%
  • Violent assaults:                   4%

Of these incidents the following didn't report it to their manager:

  • Abuse            46%
  • Threats          33%
  • Violence        17%

Respect for Shopworker Week 2013 takes place on 11 – 15 November. It is an annual event where shopworkers talk to the public about the problems of violence threats and abuse, asking customers to 'keep their cool'. Part of the campaign will be encouraging shopworker not to take abuse as part of the job and report incidents to their manager.

For Usdaw press releases visit: www.usdaw.org.uk/news

 follow us @UsdawUnion

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