Usdaw calls for Black Friday calm after years of “unprecedented scenes of mayhem”

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Usdaw asks for calm ahead of Black Friday sales
// Usdaw backs Labour’s manifesto commitment to protect workers from abuse and violence
// Union asks shoppers for calm as they campaign for tougher laws on shopworker abuse

Usdaw has reiterated its annual call for shoppers to respect shop workers during the Black Friday promotions.

This year The Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers said it was backing Labour’s manifesto commitment to ensure “that public-facing workers are protected by toughening the law against abuse and violence”; a measure that has also been called for by retail employer organisations.

READ MORE: Retail violence surges 25%

The union, which counts over 433,000 retail employees as members, said problems with Black Friday began in 2013 and 2013, and that a survey of shop workers from 2014 said they saw verbal abuse, threats and violence against staff increase by two thirds over the holiday promotional time.

“Our members have had real concerns about Black Friday. After two years of unprecedented scenes of mayhem in some stores, as bargain hunting turned into frenzy, we discussed safety issues with retailers,” said Usdaw General Secretary Paddy Lillis.

“They responded positively by organising their events to maximise safety and security for staff and customers alike. Consequently recent years have been quieter and more respectful, but we continue to monitor the situation.”

“Violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers are already worryingly high, interim figures from this year’s Usdaw survey of over 4,000 shopworkers suggest there’s been a big jump in incidents,” Lillis added.

Labour’s manifesto comes in the wake of new research from Usdaw that found violence against retail shop floor staff has increased by over 25 per cent in the last year.

Elsewhere the BRC launching its own retail manifesto, calling on the next government to safeguard shopworkers by bringing forward legislation to protect them from increasing attacks in the workplace.

“Everyone deserves to go to work free from fear. The latest retail crime statistics are shocking,” BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said.

“Usdaw and retail employer organisations have been jointly calling on the Government for additional legal protections to prevent attacks on shopworkers and ensure that violent criminals are prosecuted. Unfortunately Conservative ministers have not yet responded to the evidence received in their own consultation, which was debated on the final sitting of Parliament. However, Usdaw is very pleased that Labour’s manifesto promises to legislate for shopworker protection,” said Lillis.

For today’s Black Friday promotions, the Usdaw general secretary added:

“Around 400 retail staff are violently attacked every day, with many more threatened and verbally abused. It is time to say enough is enough and only Labour is pledged to deliver much needed protections.

“My Black Friday message to shoppers is clear. Enjoy your bargain hunting, keep your cool and respect shopworkers.”

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