Keep Your Cool at Christmas

Cathy with USDAW shop workers

Cathy with USDAW shop workers

It’s not just ‘hoodies’ who abuse shopworkers …

Falkirk East MSP Cathy Peattie is supporting Usdaw’s campaign of Freedom From Fear for shopworkers.

At the Scottish launch in the Scottish Parliament, Cathy joined others in talking with Usdaw members who have suffered violence, abuse and threats at the hands of customers who, on appearance, may look quite respectable. The MSPs were also shown five life-size caricatures of shop customers and trying to guess which ones were guilty of which offences.

Cathy said: “Over half (56%) of shopworkers have suffered verbal abuse from customers in the past year, according to the latest survey by Usdaw, with 4% claiming they are verbally abused on a daily basis. This is clearly not acceptable. Not even one incident is acceptable. Violent attacks can still be a concern for shopworkers. That’s why I’m supporting Usdaw’s campaign to show respect to shopworkers, particularly around Christmas time, when the shops can get so busy.”

Usdaw General Secretary, John Hannett, said: “We’re delighted to have Cathy supporting our campaign. The issue of abuse against shopworkers in the Falkirk area is a serious one. Incidents of abuse and violence are lower than last year, thanks to our annual campaign. For example, many customers who signed our petition last year to respect shopworkers said that it would make them stop and think before ‘sounding off’, so it seems that the message is hitting home. However, the incidents of abuse are still unacceptably high, with shopworkers never being sure whether the next customer is going to kick off or be offensive so it is important that we continue to highlight the pressures they face on a daily basis.”


Notes to editors:

Incidences of abuse towards shopworkers were recorded in a recent survey of Usdaw members. A few of the many real examples are below:

  • Suffering abusive language when asking a customer to leave without the alcohol that they wished to purchase despite having no ID.
  • Being called an idiot with no personality or qualifications.
  • Being shouted at and sworn at by customer when refusing a refund on a product.
  • Offering advice to a customer frustrated by self service, only for them to get aggressive and abusive, complaining about me to the manager.
  • Being verbally abused by customer because an item was out of stock.
  • Being threatened by a female customer that she would wait outside the store to ‘get me’ after a refund refusal.
  • A member of staff physically attacked at the checkout for refusing to sell alcohol without I.D.
  • Customers hitting staff with trolleys when stock runs out.

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