Gavin Strang MP is supporting shopworkers, who have come together as Usdaw United Against Abuse to give a red card to verbal abuse after a new survey found a staggering 95% of retail staff have been verbally abused by customers.
The Usdaw United Against Abuse teams across the UK will be handing out red cards on national Respect for Shopworkers Day – Wednesday 12 July – reminding shoppers that verbally abuse is a form of intimidation suffered by millions of retail workers every year.
Gavin Strang MP said, “I was shocked to hear Usdaw’s research, which found that at least one million shopworkers are verbally abused every working day.
“Most shoppers would never think of physically assaulting a shopworker, but many seem to think it is alright to shout, scream and hurl abuse into the faces of retail staff.”
Usdaw’s General Secretary, John Hannett said, “Last year verbal abuse of shop staff shot up by an alarming 35%. Our members are saying enough is enough and they will no longer tolerate vile abuse as part of their daily working lives.
“Football referees can use a red card against players who verbally abuse them so our members will be using an Usdaw red card to spread the message that abusing staff is unacceptable.
“Our members can suffer a terrifying catalogue of physical abuse from being stabbed, hit with iron bars and being threatened with dirty syringes, but vicious verbal abuse day after day can be psychologically damaging, resulting in many shopworkers quitting their jobs.”
Usdaw members report that serious instances of graphic swearing, sexist comments, homophobic abuse and racist taunts from out of control shoppers are rising sharply.
Gavin Strang MP said, “The message is simple. Staff are not verbal punchbags for shoppers to take out their frustrations on.
“They are human beings with feelings and have a right to work in a non-threatening environment. Shoppers need to remember shopworkers are someone’s mother, father, brother or sister and you wouldn’t abuse your own relatives like this.
“The red card is a final reminder to shoppers that they if they feel themselves losing control in a shop to take a step back and understand that no situation in a shop, no matter how stressful, gives you the right to verbally abuse a retail worker.”