Retail trade union Usdaw has again called for legislation to better protect retail staff. Today’s (23 March) figures from the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) today show that 89% of colleagues working in local shops have experienced some form of abuse, with over 1.2 million incidents recorded over the last year.

ACS also found that 65% of respondents have seen Covid-related threats to staff around face coverings, social distancing, queueing and age identification. The ACS 2021 Crime Report is being launched at today’s online seminar. The full report is available to download at:

The final results of Usdaw’s 2020 survey of 2,729 shopworkers across the UK found that:

  1. 88% experienced verbal abuse
  2. 60% were threatened by a customer
  3. 9% were assaulted
  4. 79% of shopworkers say abuse was worse last year

The full report can be downloaded from:

Paddy Lillis, Usdaw General Secretary says:
“The results of two separate surveys clearly show the scale of the appalling violence, threats and abuse faced by shopworkers and demonstrate the need for a ‘protection of shopworkers’ law. It has been a terrible year, with ACS and Usdaw both finding nearly 90% of shopworkers suffering abuse and Covid safety measures becoming significant flashpoints.

“Over 104,000 people signed Usdaw’s Parliamentary Petition on the issue and we are saying loud and clear that enough is enough, abuse should never be part of the job. The Westminster Government has persistently opposed new legislation, offering little more than sympathy and objecting to the Alex Norris protection of shopworkers bill in the House of Commons. However, we had a great result for our members in Scotland, as MSPs voted through ground-breaking legislation to give shopworkers the protection they deserve. We are now looking for MPs to support key workers across the retail sector and help turn around the Westminster Government’s opposition.

“When retailers and the shopworkers’ trade union jointly call for action, it is time for the police, courts, Police and Crime Commissioners and the Government to listen and take retail crime seriously.”

Campaign update: Late last year, the influential House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee launched an inquiry into the issue the day after Usdaw secured over 104,000 signatures on a ‘protect shopworkers’ petition. In January, the Scottish Parliament unanimously voted for a ground-breaking new law to protect shopworkers. In February, 66 senior retail leaders wrote to the Prime Minister urging the UK Government to create a new statutory offence of assaulting, threatening, or abusing a retail worker.

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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