Freedom from Fear

Last week, representatives of Usdaw, the shopworkers union, were in Parliament to promote Respect for Shopworkers Week.

The awareness week is part of the trade union’s wider Freedom from Fear campaign which over the last decade has worked with employers, police and local authorities to tackle violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers.

According to the British Retail Consortium’s annual Retail Crime Survey, over 35,000 retail staff suffered from threats, verbal or physical abuse in the UK last year. While there has been a welcome reduction in the number of physical attacks against staff, verbal abuse and threats of violence, which can be hugely distressing, increased dramatically.   

This sort of behaviour is completely unacceptable. When shop workers are doing their jobs they have a right to expect that they will be safe and treated with respect.

The timing of the campaign coincides with the build up to the festive period when incidents against staff become more common.  Shopping at this time of year can be a stressful experience with busy shops and long queues but the message of the campaign is to keep your cool and remember that shop staff are there to help.

The campaign is providing practical tips for workers faced with abusive customers and encouraging them to seek help when incidents occur.

As Christmas approaches I hope that everyone gets their shopping done with as little stress as possible and would urge everyone to keep their cool this Christmas.