Unions anger at rise in shop violence

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A shocking rise in the number of attacks on shopworkers, involving violence, threats, and abuse, is causing growing concern.

New figures show a 28 per cent increase in offences of this nature during 2015, prompting the shopworkers’ trade union to appeal for help to protect shopworkers.

All too often, shopworkers encounter violence, threats and abuse for simply doing their job

Shopworkers’ trade union leader, John Hannett

Shopworkers’ trade union leader, John Hannett, has circulated an official call for action in response to the finds of the British Retail Crime survey.

Mr Hannett, Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw) General Secretary, said: “All too often, shopworkers encounter violence, threats and abuse for simply doing their job.

“So this latest survey from the British Retail Consortium is very worrying.

“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.”

In Morecambe, a brave betting shop worker fought back two attackers during an attempted raid on Saturday 10th October 2015.

The 35-year-old man was punched and stamped on after refusing to open the safe at the Betfred shop in Westgate.

Interim results of Usdaw’s annual survey of shopworkers show that over half of shopworkers were verbally abused in the last year.

Over the same period, three in ten people were threatened with violence, and over two per cent were assaulted, according to survey interviews of 2,536 shopworkers.

Mr Hannett said: “All too often criminals who assault staff are not even sent to court, and those who are, can receive derisory sentences.

“In other cases, where the offender often isn’t charged at all, victims are left feeling that no one cares that they were assaulted.”

Amidst the growing concerns of retail workers, Usdaw began collaborating with retailers as part of their Freedom From Fear Campaign, which aims to promote respect and increase the safety of workplaces for staff and customers.

Mr Hannett said: “Retail crime remains too high and there needs to be action to protect shopworkers.

“It is time for the government to act by providing stiffer penalties for those who assault shopworkers.

“Retail staff have a crucial role in our communities and that role must be valued and respected.”