Cumbrian shopworkers have spoken out about the “selfish” way people are shopping amid the COVID pandemic, in a survey by a national retail trade union.
North West shopworkers told of violence, threats and abuse as Usdaw — The Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers — launches Respect for Shopworkers Week, to raise public awareness of violence, threats and abuse against retail staff.
Interim results from the union’s Freedom from Fear survey of more than 2,000 retail staff shows that so far this year 76 per cent of shop staff say abuse has been worse than normal during the COVID-19 pandemic; 85 per cent have experienced verbal abuse; 57 per cent were threatened by a customer and nine percent were assaulted.
In the survey, one Cumbrian shopworker said: “A lot of people are very selfish. They just want what they want with no regard for us at the workplace. I’ve a one-year-old son, who I’m putting at risk to try to provide for our country and we get no thanks whatsoever. It’s a joke.”
This week, Usdaw has been raising awareness of the year-round Freedom from Fear Campaign and promoting the parliamentary petition calling on the Government to legislate to protect shopworkers.
The petition currently has more than 70,000 signatures and can be signed at: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/328621.
Paddy Lillis — Usdaw general secretary — said: “It is heartbreaking to hear these testimonies from North West shopworkers who deserve far more respect than they receive. Abuse should never be a part of the job and we are appalled that three-quarters of retail staff say abuse has been worse during this appalling national pandemic.
“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.”
Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.