Usdaw Protecting Retail Workers Parliamentary Reception

As part of Usdaw’s ongoing Freedom From Fear Campaign, I attended the Respect for Shopworkers Week Parliamentary Reception on Monday 13 November 2023 with Paddy Lillis, General Secretary of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw) and spoke to him about the issues faced by shopworkers.

Violent crime and abuse is a very real hazard for retail workers. Every year tens of thousands of retail workers are physically attacked and hundreds of thousands are subject to verbal abuse and intimidation. According to Usdaw’s latest survey in 2022, three-quarters of retail workers experienced verbal abuse, half were threatened by a customer and 8% were assaulted. Nearly a third (30%) are considering changing their job and over four in ten (41%) feel anxious about work, all because of high levels of abuse, threats and violence.

Usdaw’s Freedom From Fear Campaign is a longstanding campaign aimed at preventing violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers. As part of this campaign, Usdaw holds an annual Respect for Shopworkers Week, which this year takes place from 13-19 November.

During this week, Usdaw members from across the country will be holding events in stores to highlight the abuse, threats and violence that staff experience, especially during the busy Christmas trading period.

The best way to protect retail workers against violence is to prevent incidents from happening in the first place. Through its Freedom From Fear Campaign, Usdaw is working with employers to make working life safer. Employers have a legal duty to protect staff from customer harassment.

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