Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary said:
“It is good to see such a broad range of unions involved in this motion today. From the supermarket to the postal sorting office, from the football pitch to the theatre, workers across the country are facing a mental health crisis. Usdaw, alongside many other unions, is campaigning to end that crisis. Trade unions are helping workers to speak out, without fear of stigma or reprisal.
“Usdaw organises workers in a number of low-paid sectors, where jobs and the workers contribution to society are frequently not taken seriously, where people assume they are just working for a bit of extra cash or as a stop gap on the way to something better. Sometimes, even in the trade union movement, we hear comments like ‘for that money, they might as well be stacking shelves in a supermarket’.
I understand that those comments are born out of real frustrations, about people being undervalued in their own job, but they are also based on false perceptions about the nature of retail work. Shopworkers have physically demanding, target driven, people focused jobs. Modern technology puts them under constant surveillance and threat of performance management.
“They have to deal with rude and abusive customers - not just now and again, but every single day. Last year, on average over 280 shopworkers were assaulted every day. Over 70% of female shop workers surveyed by Usdaw experienced sexual harassment at work in the last 12 months. It's not only the incidents of abuse or harassment that cause stress, anxiety and depression. It's also the constant threat that the next attack is just around the corner.
“These factors - of feeling undervalued, under pressure and under threat – are creating a toxic work environment for millions of shop workers across the country and when you add in the difficulties of balancing work with caring responsibilities, it gets even tougher when you have: Inadequate family friendly rights; contracts that fail to guarantee enough working hours from one week to the next, and poverty pay that is just not enough to feed a family and pay the bills.
“Just as we protect physical health and safety with requirements for Personal Protective Equipment, we need to mirror this for mental health. When employers fail to make those reasonable adjustments, they need to feel the full weight of the law. Trade unions need to highlight and campaign over mental health in the workplace.
“For those reasons, Usdaw is promoting World Mental Health Day on 10 October. To campaign for healthy workplaces that tackles risks to workers' mental health and highlights the risks to mental health that workers face on a daily basis.”
Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers)
is the UK's fifth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with over 410,000 members. Membership has increased by more than one-third over the last couple of decades. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news
and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion