Union survey reveals shocking scale of abuse faced by shopworkers in the north west

A north west shopworker is abused, threatened or assaulted over 20 times a year on average according to a new survey.

The survey by shopworkers' union USDAW reveals staff in the north west are regularly threatened, assaulted or abused
The survey by shopworkers' union USDAW reveals staff in the north west are regularly threatened, assaulted or abused

Shopworker’s trade union Usdaw today released statistics from their annual survey which shows that, on average, North West shopworkers were verbally abused, threatened or assaulted 24 times last year.

While not all shopworkers suffer to this extent, some experience much higher levels of abuse, threats and violence. Usdaw’s Freedom From Fear Survey shows that during 2018:

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65 per cent of North West shopworkers experienced verbal abuse (which is above the national average);

39 per cent were threatened by a customer;

32 assaulted every day.

The Government has opened a ‘call for evidence’ on this issue, following pressure from Usdaw, employers and retailers’ organisations like the Association of Convenience Stores.

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Usdaw is running its own survey, which will feed into the Home Office ‘call for evidence’ and can be completed at: www.usdaw.org.uk/respectsurvey

Paddy Lillis, Usdaw General Secretary, said: “Violence, threats and abuse against workers are amongst the great scourges of our society. The statistics are shocking and show that urgent action is required. On average a North West shopworker can end up on the wrong side of a verbal or physical assault nearly once a fortnight. Our message is clear, abuse is not a part of the job.

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“Life on the frontline of retail can be pretty tough for many shopworkers and there is still a lot to do to help protect them. We launched our Freedom From Fear Campaign in the face of growing concerns amongst retail staff about violence, threats and abuse. The campaign works with employers to promote respect and make shops safer for staff and customers alike.

“So there needs to be action to help protect staff. We want the Government to provide stiffer penalties for 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.

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“Usdaw welcomes the Government opening a ‘call for evidence’ and we encourage everyone concerned with this issue to make their voices heard by contributing to the Home Office online consultation or visiting the Usdaw website to complete our survey, which we will submit to the Government.

“Retail staff have a crucial role in our communities and that role must be valued and respected, they deserve the protection of the law.”