James Brokenshire joined staff at The Co-operative Food on Station Road to back a campaign urging shoppers to keep their cool in the run-up to Christmas, and to show respect for retail workers. The visit was in support of shopworkers’ union Usdaw’s “Freedom from Fear” campaign.
A survey by the union reveals that, in the past 12 months, 6% of shopworkers were subjected to a violent attack, 37% were threatened with harm, and 70% suffered verbal abuse. The Co-operative is backing Usdaw’s campaign and, as the run-up to Christmas, with busy shops and high stress levels, is often when physical and verbal abuse occurs, shoppers are being urged to keep their cool. The Co-operative has developed an innovative and successful “avoiding conflict” training programme for its shop staff, empowering them with behavioural techniques to minimise the likelihood of verbal and physical assault.
James Brokenshire said:
"Shop staff should be able to get on with their work without the risk of verbal or physical abuse. Of course it can get stressful in preparing for Christmas, but taking out frustrations on people simply doing their job is not acceptable. I am pleased to support this campaign and will continue to work with Usdaw and the retail industry to highlight this important issue."
Mark Hudson, The Co-operative Food’s Regional Operations Director for the South East, said:
“We are proud to once again be working in partnership with Usdaw to promote the ‘Freedom from Fear’ campaign. Shop staff work hard, especially at Christmas, and people should always think twice before venting their frustrations and abusing a shopworker.”
Staff will be handing out festive stress balls and leaflets offering tips to help customers keep their cool.