Local retail workers are organising a campaign to protect themselves from abuse at work.
Shopworkers’ union Usdaw has launched the Freedom From Fear campaign to raise awareness and press the government and employers to offer more support and protection to staff.
Jo Cox MP visited a Tesco store in Batley & Spen during Respect Week to support Usdaw members and hear about some of their experiences. Mrs Cox met Usdaw rep and Tesco employee Jonathan Charnock. He said:
“Incidents of abuse from customers happen far too often in retail, it’s common, for example, to get sworn at for enforcing the Think 25 policy when customers don’t have any ID.
“We were really happy to see so many members of the public supporting our campaign and filling out the petition. It shows it’s only a small minority that cause problems. We’re hoping the government will take action as a result of this campaign to help support us, and all public-facing workers.”
Mrs Cox said: “It’s sad to think in this day and age that this sort of campaign would be necessary but unfortunately it is and I hope the government will listen carefully to what Usdaw members are saying and take steps to protect retail workers from abuse.
“It was very encouraging to see just how much support the campaign is attracting from Tesco’s customers. Shoppers were queuing up to sign up and pledge their support.”
Steph Bowman, also an Usdaw rep at Tesco, said: “It was really good to see our Labour MP Jo Cox in store supporting us and talking to our members about their experiences. It was a real eye opener for her to find out just what shop workers have to put up with.
“We’re delighted Mrs Cox is supporting our campaign.”
Usdaw’s Freedom From Fear campaign hopes to:
- Negotiate with employers for safety and security improvements in stores.
- Campaign for Government to ensure that their policies and actions help tackle retail crime and anti-social behaviour in shopping areas.
- Raise awareness with the shopping public that violence, threats and abuse against workers is unacceptable behaviour.
- Give workers the confidence to speak out and not accept abuse as just a part of the job.
- Campaign for better handling of black Friday sales events to protect staff from the mobs of shoppers that were seen last year.
More information is available at www.usdaw.org.uk/freedomfromfear