Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw has launched Respect for Shopworkers Week with shocking statistics revealing that nearly one in ten shopworkers have been assaulted in the course of their duties, but almost a third of them didn’t report the incident.

Usdaw’s annual respect week, 14 – 20 November, is when the union’s reps and members organise awareness events as part of the Freedom from Fear Campaign, which seeks to prevent verbal abuse, threats and violent attacks at work.

Interim results of Usdaw’s Freedom From Fear Survey show that nearly half of shopworkers are verbally abused and a quarter are threatened. The survey continues and full results will be released in the New Year.

Theft is often a trigger for violence. A member in Northwich reported that, “I was attacked at work when I caught a customer stealing – they tried to strangle me.” A shopworker from the Midlands said, “I was punched by a customer when trying to stop a robbery.” A shopworker from Bridlington who is verbally abused almost weekly and the victim of physical abuse at least once a month said, “I often have to deal with all shoplifters. I’ve been smacked, head butted, spat at and kicked.”

John Hannett – Usdaw General Secretary said: “Violence, threats and abuse against workers is one of the great scourges of our society. The statistics are shocking and show that urgent action is required. Many UK workers are on the frontline of dealing with the public and that can mean they end up on the wrong side of a verbal or physical assault.”

Nick Thomas-Symonds said: “It is completely unacceptable that workers cannot do their invaluable jobs without the fear of being assaulted. USDAW are doing a fantastic job of raising awareness about the problems that are faced by some shopworkers on a daily basis.”

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