West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper demonstrated her support for USDAW’s Respect for Shopworkers Week when she visited the Co-op store in Upholland on 16 November.
MP Rosie has joined with the members of the retail union Usdaw to call for an end to abuse in the workplace. As part of the Freedom From Fear Campaign, Usdaw organises Respect for Shopworkers Week, which runs from 12 to 18 November. During the week, Usdaw members highlight the abuse, threats and violence that they have to endure as part of their jobs and ask the public for their support during the busy Christmas period.
Interim results of Usdaw’s Freedom From Fear Survey show that during 2018, 6 in 10 shopworkers experienced verbal abuse, 37% were threatened by a customer, with over 230 assaulted every day. The number of incidents is in line with last year and remain higher than 2 years ago. The survey continues and full results will be released in the New Year.
During her visit to the store on Ormskirk Road, MP Rosie discussed local community safety issues with store staff and heard about the Co-op’s operational programme to help tackle crime. Staff explained some of the measures the store have taken including the introduction of headsets so staff can speak to each other and raise alarm if necessary.
As part of its commitment to colleague safety and community well-being, the Co-op is backing the shopworkers’ union USDAW’s campaign and the Respect for Shopworkers Week.
West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper said:
“Shopworkers face an unprecedented level of threat from violent incidents as each day across the UK six are threatened with a knife and two with a gun. Recent figures show that across the country violent, weaponised crimes is on the rise with a 16% increase in incidents involving knives.
“Products can be replaced and stores repaired, but violent crime in shops often has a shocking, and lasting, impact on those working at the frontline. That is why I am backing this important initiative as we must all do everything we can to help reduce these attacks.”
“The violence, threats and abuse that retail workers face whilst serving the public is unacceptable. It is really important that all of us support this campaign and I ask that people consider the hard work that Usdaw members, and all shopworkers, do. We all need to keep our cool and respect shopworkers, especially as we approach the busy Christmas shopping period.
“I was personally saddened to hear about the level and nature of the abuse that shopworkers can receive on all too regular a basis. No one should have to put up with this whilst simply doing their jobs.
“I am proud to campaign with Usdaw to provide shopworkers the protection they need and deserve. We must give a clear message that abusing or assaulting workers who are serving the public is totally unacceptable.”
Paul Gerrard, Director of Campaigns at the Co-op, said:
“Retail crime is often considered to be victimless as people think it only involves a faceless business losing stock or money. However, it is not the shop that is left bruised, bleeding or traumatised. This type of crime has nothing to do with profit and everything to do with people.
“In the months ahead, we’ll be looking to work with local community groups and other neighbourhood leaders who are engaged in tackling the root causes of crime, to see if we can identify mutual solutions to shared concerns.”
Paddy Lillis, Usdaw General Secretary says:
“We are grateful to Rosie Cooper MP for supporting our campaign to keep our members safe at work.
“Life on the frontline of retail can be pretty tough for many shopworkers. We launched our Freedom From Fear Campaign in the face of growing concerns amongst retail staff about violence, threats and abuse.
“This week our members are out campaigning on high streets, in shopping centres and stores; talking to the public and asking them to ‘keep their cool and respect shopworkers’. Retail staff have a crucial role in our communities and that role must be valued and respected.
“There needs to be serious action to help protect staff. It is time for the Government to impose stiffer penalties on those who assault workers; a simple stand-alone offence that is widely recognised and understood by the public, police, CPS, the judiciary and most importantly criminals. The Government could act immediately by accepting a protection of shopworkers amendment to their Offensive Weapons Bill, which will make it a specific offence to obstruct a shopworker who is preventing the illegal sale of knives and corrosive substances.”