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Respect for Shopworkers Week Briefing 2023

England, Wales, Scotland - Keep Your Cool
Usdaw’s Freedom From Fear Campaign exists to tackle abuse and assaults against public facing workers. Each year during the run-up to the busy Christmas shopping period, the Union runs a Respect for Shopworkers Week. The purpose of this week is to raise awareness of this issue and make it clear that abuse is not part of the job. 
Retail workers across the country are faced with unacceptable levels of abuse, threats and violence. Our latest survey figures show that more than 7 out of 10 retail workers have been abused in the last 12 months. 49% of retail workers have been threatened with physical violence and 8% have been physically assaulted. 
Our campaign has had some recent successes. Following on from the introduction of a new law in Scotland, last year we secured additional protections for retail workers in England and Wales. As a result of these protections, offenders should receive harsher sentences when convicted through the Courts. However, we want the law to go further and are continuing to campaign for a specific offence to protect retail workers covering all parts of the United Kingdom. Ahead of the upcoming General Election, we are pushing all parties to commit to this and that’s why this week we will be engaging with MPs and getting as many of them into stores as possible so they can hear about the issue firsthand. 
Whilst any new provisions are welcome, they all rely on cases making it to court and people being prosecuted. Therefore, we need to ensure that all cases of threats, abuse and violence are reported and recorded. For this reason, the theme of Respect Week is ‘Report it. Sort it.’ 

Ensuring that all cases are reported will help send a clear message to colleagues, employers, politicians and the police of the scale of the issue and the need for further action to protect retail workers. 
That’s why it’s so important to deliver a highly visible campaign. A high profile campaign will also give retail workers the confidence to report all instances of abuse. We know that in the busy run-up to Christmas a lack of stock, queuing and theft are likely to be flashpoints for abuse towards retail workers, so we need to get the Keep Your Cool message across to customers. 

We can only do this with your help.

Please order your materials before Mon 9 October.

Thank you for supporting this important campaign. Through us all working together we can make this year’s Respect for Shopworkers Week a huge success. 
How You Can Help
We are asking reps to run a one-day Keep Your Cool campaign in their store, any day between 13-19 November 2023. 
The campaign can be anything from a campaign stall, to a few simple conversations with colleagues (please see below for more ideas). Whatever the format of your campaign, there are three simple actions we are focussing on to enable you to engage with staff in your store: 
  1. Ask members and non-members to fill in the Freedom From Fear survey. 
  2. Talk to members and non-members about Usdaw’s Freedom From Fear campaign. Encourage all staff in your store to report all incidents of threats, abuse and violence. 
  3. Ask any non-members who engage with the campaign to join Usdaw
For more information about running a Keep Your Cool event visit www.usdaw.org.uk/KYCevent.
About the Campaign 
Usdaw has been running our Freedom From Fear Campaign since 2002. Unfortunately, as a result of cuts to police funding and delays in the criminal justice system, the trend in retail crime numbers is going the wrong way. Usdaw’s survey results have shown a troubling increase in violence and abuse against retail workers in recent years. We know our members suffer appalling abuse and violence while at work, however the official retail crime figures don’t always reflect the true picture. This is because not all retail crime is reported. 
Report It. Sort It! 
Unreported retail crime means that individuals do not get the justice they deserve following an incident. It also skews the picture of retail crime as a whole, meaning that workplaces may be allocated less security resources than they need, and it may affect how often a particular location is policed. 
We Need to Ensure that Incidents are Properly Dealt With 
More reporting of retail crime will build a truer picture of the scale of this issue and ensure that employers and the police deal with all incidents properly. Furthermore accurate reporting, which is followed up by the police will ensure the legal provisions act as a deterrent for would-be offenders. This would give our members the proper protection they deserve. 

Inviting a Local Labour Politician 
Everyone should try to invite their local Labour politicians to take part in the campaign. This helps them to understand the issues at the heart of the campaign and builds the links that make it easier to deliver the improved protection shopworkers need. If you get a response, make sure you let us know by emailing the details to: [email protected] 
To find out who your MPs, MSPs and MSs are, go online at: www.writetothem.com and enter your store’s postcode. Your Area Organiser can provide support when inviting your local Labour politician.

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