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‘Please respect shopworkers’, says USDAW

The trade union leader of Usdaw has urged shoppers to “keep their cool” this Black Friday.

The Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers also announced its support of Labour’s manifesto, that states the party will ensure that “public-facing workers are protected by toughening the law against abuse and violence”.

The union says that Black Friday violence began in 2013, and following a 2014 survey conducted by the union, it found that two-thirds of retail workers were faced with increased incidents of verbal abuse, threats and violence during the sales event.

Recent years have seemed “more respectful”, but violence against retail workers is still “worryingly high”, claims the union. 

Usdaw’s message follows its latest findings that two thirds of retail workers had been verbally abused in the last year.

In its annual Freedom From Fear survey, it found that retail workers were ‘abused or assaulted’ over 21 times a year. 

Paddy Lillis, general secretary of Usdaw, said: “Our members have had real concerns about Black Friday. After two years of unprecedented scenes of mayhem in some stores, as bargain hunting turned into frenzy, we discussed safety issues with retailers. 

“They responded positively by organising their events to maximise safety and security for staff and customers alike. Consequently recent years have been quieter and more respectful, but we continue to monitor the situation.

“Violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers are already worryingly high, interim figures from this year’s Usdaw survey of over 4,000 shopworkers suggest there’s been a big jump in incidents, with violence against shopworkers up 25% since last year.”

He added: “Usdaw and retail employer organisations have been jointly calling on the Government for additional legal protections to prevent attacks on shopworkers and ensure that violent criminals are prosecuted. 

“Unfortunately Conservative ministers have not yet responded to the evidence received in their own consultation, which was debated on the final sitting of Parliament. However, Usdaw is very pleased that Labour’s manifesto promises to legislate for shopworker protection.

“Around 400 retail staff are violently attacked every day, with many more threatened and verbally abused. It is time to say enough is enough and only Labour is pledged to deliver much needed protections.

“My Black Friday message to shoppers is clear. Enjoy your bargain hunting, keep your cool and respect shopworkers.”

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