Retail trade union Usdaw has today launched Respect for Shopworkers Week with shocking statistics from their annual survey. Interim results from over 2,000 retail staff show that so far this year:

  1. 76% say abuse has been worse than normal during the Covid-19 pandemic,
  2. 85% of shopworkers have experienced verbal abuse,
  3. 57% were threatened by a customer,
  4. 9% were assaulted.

The annual Respect for Shopworkers Week runs from 16-22 November 2020. During the week, Usdaw will be raising awareness of the year-round Freedom from Fear Campaign and promoting the parliamentary petition calling on the Government to legislate to protect shopworkers. The petition currently has over 70,000 signatures and can be signed at:

Paddy Lillis, Usdaw General Secretary says: 
“Yet another Usdaw survey shows that some people have responded to this appalling pandemic by abusing shopworkers. At a time when we should all be working together to get through this national crisis, it is a disgrace that staff working to keep food on the shelves are being abused.

“Action to protect shopworkers is needed and that is why we have launched a petition, which now has over 70,000 signatures. We were deeply disappointed by the Government’s response to the petition, offering little more than sympathy, so we continue to campaign for the 100,000 signatures needed to trigger a parliamentary debate.

“This is a hugely important issue for our members. Shopworkers are saying loud and clear that enough is enough, abuse should never be just a part of the job. Retail staff have a crucial role in our communities and that role must be valued and respected, they deserve the protection of the law.”

Voices from the frontline: Some of the comments from shopworkers responding to this year’s annual survey:

  1. “Asked a customer to join the back of a queue, got verbal abuse. She then returned to the store with a knife and said she was going cut me up.”
  2. “Physically pushed, shoved, trolley rammed during panic buying.”
  3. “Trying to belittle and humiliate you. Undermining what you are saying about the rules.”
  4. “Being screamed at when telling customers we don’t have an item in stock.”
  5. “I had members of the public cough on me as I was stacking shelves.”
  6. “People pulling your mask off for being a sheep.”
  7. “My car was keyed by a customer who was barred from the shop.”
  8. “Since the pandemic I’ve had abuse nearly every day, even coughed on twice.”

Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers)is the UK’s fifth biggest trade union with over 400,000 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.

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