As part of our ongoing campaign to secure better protection for our colleagues, we are encouraging people to sign a petition launched by shopworker union USDAW calling on the Government to act on the growing issue of abuse of staff.
The petition urges the Government to enact legislation to protect retail workers – something we have been campaigning for, alongside other retailers and groups, for several years.
New figures from our stores showed assaults jumped by 100%, threats and intimidation by 25% and verbal abuse by 175% since the start of the year, and since the lockdown was introduced, there have been over 100 incidents related directly to people using COVID-19 as a threat.
Some examples of incidents have included multiple threats by customers to cough on colleagues and ‘give them Coronavirus’ and further threats of assaults because people have had to queue to enter stores, social distance or simply because they do not have a specific product.
Recently, over 200 parliamentarians from across the political divide pledged to support our efforts to keep staff and customers safe and that any type of crime from burglaries to violence and aggression towards staff would ‘not be tolerated’ during these uncertain times.
Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis said: “I urge the government not to dismiss my petition, but to listen to the voices of shop workers and employers by legislating for stiffer penalties for those who assault workers. They have talked about zero-tolerance, but that means very little if it is not backed up by strong actions.”