Respect your shopworkers

West Midlands shopworkers speak out after an Usdaw survey (March 23) shows high levels of violence, threats and abuse.

Retail trade union Usdaw has published shocking statistics from their annual survey of retail staff, which show that in the West Midlands over the last twelve months:
• 73.1% have experienced verbal abuse.
• 48% were threatened by a customer.
• 6.5% were assaulted.
The full report can be found at:

Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK’s fifth biggest trade
union with around 360,000 members. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the
union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemical
industry and other trades.

These are some of the comments West Midlands shopworkers shared when responding to Usdaw’s survey:
Coventry & Warwickshire: “Most of the time I get abuse when doing reductions.” –
“Customer refused alcohol, believed he was drunk, walked around the till to get to me.” –
“Customer yelled at me, shoved me to the ground and kicked me.”

Herefordshire: “I was threatened and followed out of car park.” – “Was shoved to the side by
a man who wanted something and didn’t want to wait.” – “Lady got upset and swore at me
and threw here shopping basket at me.”

Shropshire: “Young lady punched me in the arm.” – “Mostly verbal abuse from shoplifting or
from Think-25.” – “Throwing products, threatened to smack me in the face.” – “Swearing and
throwing things, told to catch Covid and die, racial abuse.”

Staffordshire: “Verbal abuse every single day, threats of physical violence and had a
shoplifter attempt to punch me.” – “Stock thrown at me, shoplifters barging past me
aggressively and kicking.” – “Shoplifter came in armed with a house brick.”

WM: “Arm grabbed by drunk customer.” – “Having abuse of a few ladies over daffodils, no
flower bags.” – “told to ‘f**k off’ after the customer dropped milk and blamed me.” – “Abuse for
asking for ID for Red Bull drinks more than anything.”

Worcestershire: “On self-service tills, drunken customer and girlfriend, big problems with
paying for bags.” – “Abuse/threats by a group of youths who came in trying to steal and
terrorise the store.” – “Verbal abuse when refusing alcohol to customers.”

Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “It is heart-breaking to hear these
testimonies from local shopworkers who deserve far more respect than they receive. Our
latest survey results clearly show the scale of the appalling violence, threats and abuse faced
by shopworkers.

“It is shocking that over 7 in 10 of our members working in retail are suffering abuse from
customers, with far too many experiencing threats and violence. While Covid triggers for
abuse, such as face masks and social distancing, have gone; the level of incidents faced by
retail workers across the UK is now higher than before the pandemic.
“Violence and abuse is not an acceptable part of the job. Our message to shopworkers is
clear, ‘report it to sort it’. Having secured new protection of workers laws in Westminster,
there is still much more to do. The Government must provide the co-ordination needed to
ensure that retail employers, police and the courts work together to make stores safer places
for our members to work.”

Final results of the Usdaw 2022 survey, based on 7,752 responses, show that (West Midlands results in brackets based on 910 responses):

74.3% (73.1%) were verbally abused, 49.3% (48%) were threatened. 7.9% (6.5%) had been assaulted.

UK comparison 2019202020212022

Usdaw’s Freedom from Fear Campaign seeks to prevent violence, threats and abuse
against workers by engaging the public, shopworkers and the Government.