1 in 5 assaulted shopworkers did not report the incident to their employer – an Usdaw survey says

Date: 08 November 2015 Shopworkers trade union leader John Hannett is very concerned that so many shopworkers are suffering in silence, as interim results of Usdaw’s latest Freedom From Fear survey show that 22% of shopworkers did not report a violent attack by a customer to their employer.
Today is the start of Respect for Shopworkers Week when thousands of Usdaw activists are out campaigning in supermarkets and town centres, asking customers to keep their cool and respect shopworkers.

Also today Usdaw is releasing interim results of their annual survey of shopworkers, which shows a slight decline in the number of incidents of violence, threats and abuse, but the overall figures are still shockingly high.

Over half of shopworkers were verbally abused in the last year, with more than 10% on a weekly or daily basis, 3 in 10 were threatened with violence and over 2% were assaulted.

John Hannett – Usdaw General Secretary says: “All too often shopworkers encounter violence, threats and abuse for simply doing their job. So it is very concerning that one in five do not report something as serious as a violent attack to their employer.

“Anecdotally we are told that sometimes staff don’t feel it would make any difference if they do report incidents or that it’s just a part of being in a frontline job, dealing with the public and the problems that sometimes throws up.

“My message to shopworkers is very clear, abuse is not a part of the job. We are talking to employers to ensure that reporting systems are easily accessible and will make a real difference to the protection. However it is really important that staff do tell their manager when they experience violence, threats or abuse. If they report it we can help sort it.

“This week 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'.

"There is the additional concern of Black Friday on 27 November. The last two years have seen unprecedented scenes of mayhem in some stores as bargain hunting turns into a frenzy. We have been talking to retailers about organising their events to maximise safety and security for staff and customers alike.”

Notes for editors:

Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers)
is the UK's fourth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with over 440,000 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.

Respect for Shopworkers Week is the annual campaign week and part of Usdaw’s Freedom from Fear Campaign. This year it is 9-13 November when shopworkers across the country are organising events to raise awareness with the public about what life is like on the frontline of working in retail.

Interim results of Usdaw’s Freedom From Fear Survey: The survey was conducted in face-to-face interviews of 2,536 shopworkers by Usdaw reps who asked them to talk about their experiences at work over the last twelve months:

How often have you been a victim of verbal abuse?
1-3 times 33%, Monthly 8%, Weekly 8%, Daily 3% Total abused 52%                                                        

How often have you been threatened by a customer?
1-3 times 24%, Monthly 4%, Weekly 1.5%, Daily 0.5% Total threatened 30%

9% have been a victim of physical violence from customers, 2.13% in the last twelve months and 22.5% didn’t report it to their employer.

For Usdaw press releases visit: www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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