Andrew Gwynne, MP for Denton and Reddish, last week met with Co-op staff in Audenshaw to discuss the issue of attacks and abuse of shopworkers.
Gwynne’s visit was in support of National Respect for Shopworkers Week, and the #FreedomFromFear campaign organised by the USDAW trade union. The campaign calls on the Government to introduce more robust legislation to protect shopworkers from abuse.
Gwynne has long been an advocate of doing more to clamp down on abuse in retail. Earlier this year, he backed Olivia Blake’s Private Member’s Bill which aims to create a specific offence relating to verbal and physical abuse of public-facing workers in the course of their employment. He has also addressed the topic in his work with the Home Affairs Select Committee in Parliament.
Retail crime has increased rapidly over the course of the pandemic. The Co-op has seen a 650% rise in violence towards its staff between 2016 and 2020. Over half of the physical attacks staff have faced involve weapons. More broadly, the British Retail Consortium estimates that the continued rising trend in incidents of violence and abuse amounts to the equivalent of over 50 incidents an hour (or almost one a minute during a typical 9-hour shopping day).
Commenting on these statistics, and his visit to the Co-op, Andrew Gwynne said:
“These statistics are absolutely sickening. The fact that shop workers and front-facing retail staff are having to deal with this kind of treatment on a daily basis is absolutely unacceptable.
I’m grateful to the Co-op and to USDAW for raising awareness of this, and it was great to meet with staff at Audenshaw Co-op to discuss what more needs to be done.
We need to see much stricter legislation which makes it clear that this abuse will not be tolerated. No one should face abuse at their place of work. It’s as simple as that.”