89% of shop workers have experienced abuse

Nearly nine in ten employees working in local shops have experienced some form of abuse, with more than 1.2 million incidents recorded in the past 12 months, according to figures from the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS.)

The research also found that 65 per cent of respondents have seen covid-19 related threats to staff around face coverings, social distancing, queuing, and age identification.

The study revealed that of 2,729 shopworkers across the UK, 88 per cent experienced verbal abuse, 60 per cent were threatened by a customer, 9 per cent were assaulted, while 79 per cent of shopworkers said abuse was worse last year.

“The results of two separate surveys clearly show the scale of the appalling violence, threats and abuse faced by shopworkers and demonstrate the need for a ‘protection of shopworkers’ law,” said Paddy Lillis, Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw) general secretary. “It has been a terrible year, with ACS and Usdaw both finding nearly 90 per cent of shopworkers suffering abuse and Covid safety measures becoming significant flashpoints.

He added: “Over 104,000 people signed Usdaw’s Parliamentary Petition on the issue and we are saying loud and clear that enough is enough, abuse should never be part of the job. The Westminster Government has persistently opposed new legislation, offering little more than sympathy and objecting to the Alex Norris protection of shopworkers bill in the House of Commons.”

Lillis said that Usdaw had more success in Scotland, where MSPs voted through legislation to protect shopworkers.

“When retailers and the shopworkers’ trade union jointly call for action, it is time for the police, courts, Police and Crime Commissioners and the Government to listen and take retail crime seriously,” he concluded.

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