Usdaw survey results show that many shopworkers are suffering violence, threats and abuse in silence

Date: 01 October 2013 The shopworkers' Trade Union Usdaw has launched a report on violence, threats and abuse faced by their members at work. The report is part of Usdaw's Freedom From Fear Campaign and is available on the Usdaw website.

Whilst there has been a welcome decrease in the number of incidents there are still many shopworkers suffering in silence. Usdaw's campaigning with employers over the last 10 years has made a difference but there is still a high level of incidents that go unreported. Incidents of serious violence have come down, based on the reported figures in the BRC annual survey.

Speaking at the British Retail Consortium's (BRC) Retail Crime and Loss Prevention Conference, Doug Russell – Usdaw Health and Safety Officer 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 toward the problem. It involves a personal discussion on a one-to-one basis between a shopworker and an Usdaw Rep and has shown that there is a considerable amount of under-reporting compared to the BRC survey, which reflects the incidents shopworkers report to their managers."

There is a substantial difference between the levels of violence and abuse recorded by Usdaw Reps in face-to-face discussions with workers and the incidents reported to employers, which form the basis of the BRC annual crime survey:

  • Violence: BRC 2 in 1,000 – Usdaw 4 in 100
  • Threats: BRC 3 in 1,000 – Usdaw 36 in 100
  • Abuse: BRC 7 in 1,000 – Usdaw 61 in 100

This demonstrates that whilst shopworkers are prepared to tell an Usdaw Rep about their experiences when asked, they are not reporting incidents to their managers.

John Hannett – Usdaw General Secretary says: "There clearly is a lot of under-reporting of incidents and our message to shopworkers is that 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."

Notes for editors:

  • Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fourth biggest and fastest growing Trade Union with over 432,000 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 can be found at:
    http://www.usdaw.org.uk/FFFSurveyResults
  • 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.
  • The annual BRC Retail Crime and Loss Prevention Conference regularly attracts over 200 senior delegates from retail, law enforcement, business crime partnerships and the security industry. Doug Russell, Usdaw's Health and Safety officer is a speaker at the conference.
  • British Retail Consortium's Retail Crime Survey is available at:
    http://www.brc.org.uk/brc_show_document.asp?id=4389&moid=7842

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

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