Freedom from Fear – survey shows the sheer scale of abuse facing retail staff – Scotland introduces new law

Freedom from Fear – survey shows the sheer scale of abuse facing retail staff – Scotland introduces new law
Freedom from Fear - shop staff suffer on a daily basis

As a new campaign called Freedom from Fear is launched by shopworkers’ union Usdaw to highlight the scale of abuse retail staff face on a daily basis, its recent survey of retail staff shows that:

  • 92% have experienced verbal abuse,
  • 70% were threatened by a customer,
  • 14% were assaulted.
  • One in five victims have never reported an incident to their employer, including 5% who had been assaulted.

Voices from the Frontline

These are some of the comments Northern Irish shopworkers shared when responding to Usdaw’s survey:

  • “People throwing things at me, being abusive about waiting times and about not wearing masks.”
  • “I have been called names and sexually harassed.”
  • “Physically slapped by a customer, spat at and had groceries thrown at me.”
  • “High volumes of verbal abuse when either following the Think 25 policy or refusing to serve an individual alcohol who is already under the influence.”
  • “Screamed at for not having stock. Basket thrown at me because we didn’t have the ready meal he wanted. Threatened to wait on me outside the store when I finished because she was unable to get a refund.”

Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “It is heart-breaking to hear these testimonies from Northern Irish shopworkers who deserve far more respect than they receive. Our latest survey results 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 for our members, with over 90% of shopworkers suffering abuse, more than two-thirds threatened and one in seven assaulted. We are saying loud and clear that enough is enough, abuse should never be part of the job. At a time when we should all be working together to get through this crisis, it is a disgrace that staff working to keep food on the shelves and the shop safe for customers are being abused. Action to protect shop workers is needed.

“Today a new protection of shopworkers law comes into force in Scotland, but we are deeply disappointed that the UK Government has continued to resist a similar measure in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Retail staff across the UK have a crucial role in our communities and that role must be valued and respected, they deserve the protection of the law.

“This is a hugely important issue for our members. They are deeply concerned that the current high levels of abuse will become the norm, unless the Government takes urgent and meaningful action. Shopworkers are saying loud and clear that enough is enough. The Government has promised to bring forward an amendment to their flagship policing bill in the House of Lords and we urge them to keep their word.”

Independent retailers in Scotland praise new law giving them greater protection against crime

A former police officer who was the victim of an attack in his shop has praised a landmark new law offering shop workers greater protection.

Hussan Lal, 59, was kicked in the chest when he confronted six men barging into his food shop.

At the Scottish Parliament on Monday August 23 he gave thanks to Daniel Johnson, a Labour MSP and former retailer, who brought in a Private Members Bill to offer retailers more protection against crime.

Mr Lal, representing the Federation of Independent Retailers (NFRN), also paid tribute to other parties including Ash Denham, Minister for Community Safety in the Scottish Government, who agreed to turn the bill into a law which came into force on August 24.

Irish retail staff face similar problems om a daily basis – this campaign will help highlight the issue across the UK and Ireland.