Central England Co-op backs Usdaw’s campaign, calling respect for retail workers

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Central England Co-op is asking shoppers to treat retail staff with respect as part of the ongoing ‘Freedom From Fear’ campaign, stated reports on Wednesday (25).

UK-based Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw) is running a one-week campaign ending on Aug 29 to highlight the issue of violence, threats and abuse against workers, citing its recent research’s finding that 88 per cent of retail staff experienced verbal abuse, 60 per cent were threatened while 9 per cent were assaulted in the last 12 months.

Claiming that incidents of verbal abuse jumped by 167 per cent in the last 12 months in its stores, Co-op has expressed its support for Usdaw’s initiative.

Co-op’s Craig Goldie said; “We are pleased to be able to support the Usdaw Freedom From Fear campaign. We hope people see the posters in store, respect our valued colleagues and also sign the petition to ensure new laws are put in place to better protect them.

“This has been something we have long campaigned for and this week-long campaign is a great way of continuing to talk about this really important issue.”

There have been eight major incidents in the Central England Co-op stores this year, ranging from threatening colleagues with knives to punching them in the head, reports said, adding that the retail player also revealed that incidents of verbal abuse jumped by 167 per cent, anti-social behaviour by 39 per cent, assaults by 35 per cent and threats by 16 per cent compared to 2019.

Co-op’s support to Usdaw’s campaign revealed amid reports that the retail player has rolled out a range of in stores to tackle crime and safeguard staff,  including expanding a service it uses that allows staff to call for assistance at the touch of the button and putting tracking devices in products to prevent theft.

The retailer reportedly also has several other security measures in its stores like a centrally monitored CCTV system and increased use of security officers and store detectives in stores’ stringent cash controls and training on how to deal with violence and aggression.

Retailers and union bodies have been campaigning to enact a new law that will create an assault on people- who work in a face-to-face public role- a specific offence.

A similar law, the Protection of Workers act, came into force in Scotland on Tuesday (24). The law, which was passed unanimously in the Scottish Parliament, will make assaulting or abusing retail staff a standalone offence, with tougher sentences for perpetrators.

UK retail bosses have called for similar rules to be instated across the rest of the UK after a surge in retail crime in recent years.