A retail union has urged the public to stay respectful of shop workers this Christmas.

USDAW (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied workers) met with the Home Office Minister, Victoria Atkins, on December 11th along with a number of retailers and other union representatives to discuss protection in the law for retail staff against threats of violence and abuse.

Part of the talks are to look at amending the Offensive Weapons Bill to include protection for workers who have to enforce rules on age restricted sales of knives and corrosive substances.

Michael Wheeler, Political Officer for USDAW, said: “We want to see it become a specific offence to assault, intimidate, threaten those workers who are simply going about their jobs and enforcing the law and protecting our communities.”

He added: “There are short term measures employers can take to give support to their staff who are on the front line.

“We need signage in stores saying that abuse is not part of the job, we need managers to be firm when incidents happen in stores with customers that might cross the line and giving proper good support to their employees.”

Mr Wheeler also wanted members of the public to remember that Christmas is a stressful time for everyone and to be mindful of this when shopping this year.

According to the union’s annual survey, so far in 2018 13,400 violent incidents have occurred and one in six staff members don’t report abuse because they don’t think it will make a difference.

It’s not just USDAW members who suffer from abuse, a man in Warrington was arrested this week after threatening to kill a cinema manager with a shotgun.

Dan Formby, General Manager of a Manchester cinema, said: “My number one job is protection of staff and guests, and that’s not even negotiable.

“I genuinely do think the hardest thing though is the lack of reporting and we do hear about it later. We’ll often hear about it 15, 20, 30 minutes later.”

After the talks, the Home Office Minister asked for some time to consider what she had heard.

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