As the nation enters a second national lockdown, shopworkers’ union Usdaw have called on shoppers to respect shop staff and follow the guidelines while they shop.
In a repeat of their request during the first lockdown, Usdaw have called on shoppers to respect shopworkers while they shop for essentials during the November lockdown.
In April a survey by the union found a clear increase in the level of physical and verbal abuse faced by shopworkers during the lockdown – something they are keen to avoid this time around, releasing five simple steps for shoppers to follow. The union is asking shoppers to:
1. Shop for essentials only and alone if possible
2. Queue patiently and maintain social distancing
3. Follow instructions inside and outside shops
4. Observe all necessary hygiene measures and pay by card if you can
5. Be respectful to shop staff and other customers
Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis said: “Regrettably the first lockdown saw instances of abuse towards shopworkers double and we are absolutely clear that ‘abuse is not part of the job’. Retail staff are key workers delivering essential services and that role must be valued and respected. We are absolutely clear that it is not the responsibility of shopworkers to enforce the rules, it is up to the public to follow them.
“With infections rising we understand why the government is imposing new restrictions, but customers need to play their part. They should wear a face-covering in store, observe social distancing, shop alone if possible, only buy essential items and pay by card if they can. It is important that we all work together in these difficult times to help the country through this appalling pandemic.”
During the first lockdown Usdaw found that, on average, UK retail staff were verbally abused, threatened or assaulted every week during the COVID-19 crisis.
The survey also revealed that abuse and violence towards shopworkers doubled since the coronavirus outbreak, with some shopworkers reporting being spat at and coughed on by members of the public.
Usdaw said that although not all retail staff suffered to such an extent, some experienced worse – with one in six being abused in some way on every shift they worked.
The survey of nearly 5,000 shopworkers found that since 14 March, 62% had experienced verbal abuse, nearly a third had been threatened and 4% had suffered a physical assault.
Usdaw added that when the data is averaged across all three million retail sector workers in the UK, it adds up to more than 3,500 assaults taking place every day during lockdown.