British UNI Commerce affiliate Usdaw says new report highlights 'epidemic' of violence in Britain's shops
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UNI Commerce affiliated British retail union Usdaw says a new report showing thousands of workplace injuries are caused by physical assaults highlights a worrying epidemic of violence in stores across the United Kingdom.



UNI Commerce affiliated Usdaw is very much in the forefront when it comes to defending shop workers against a rising tide of violence in the stores. John Hannett, the union's general secretary tells that thousands of UK shop workers have to live in fear, and that 20,000 are physically assaulted every year.

Although it is very much Usdaw that has drawn the attention to this serious problem, violence against people working in commerce is not restricted only to the United Kingdom. UNI-Europa Commerce has therefore raised the issue also in the European social dialogue, where a first discussion took place in June.

At a forthcoming social dialogue session in Brussels on 22 September, the social partners for commerce will introduce joint initiatives on the European level, to help come to grips with the growing tide of retail violence.

The report by AXA Insurance found that a staggering eight per cent of all workplace injuries are caused by workers being attacked by customers or colleagues.

- This report is very welcome as it highlights the grim reality that over 20,000 shopworkers are physically assaulted in their workplaces every year, says Usdaw General Secretary and UNI-Europa Commerce Vice President John Hannett.

- This epidemic of violence is aimed at our members who are only doing their jobs and results in many of them leaving the retail sector because they are so traumatised.

- Our members tell us violence in stores is on the increase which is why we launched our groundbreaking Freedom From Fear campaign working with retailers to tackle this problem store by store across the UK.

- Although the figures are bad just think how terrible it would be if shopworkers didn't have the courage to say no to violence in their workplaces and if most retailers weren't committed to making their stores zero tolerance zones for abuse, John Hannett says.

- Our members also have to endure disgusting verbal abuse which is up 35% and we are working hard to remind consumers that they have a responsibility to treat hard working shop staff with respect.

- Thousands of workers across the UK live in fear of violence so this report will highlight to the shopping public the unacceptable extent of violence in shops and that tough measures like ASBOs banning abusive customers from stores will be used to protect our members, he concludes.

NOTE: ASBO stands for Anti Social Behaviour Order which authorities can issue to restrict the possibilities that offences are repeated. Breaking against such orders result in a criminal proceeding being initiated.