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News - 14 July 2007
David Lepper

Shop staff call for respect

Brighton Pavilion Labour and Co-operative MP David Lepper is backing a campaign by the retail union Usdaw to tackle abuse against shopworkers after a survey found one third of them are subjected to vicious verbal abuse every month.

David joined shopworkers in Westminster to sign up to Usdaw’s Freedom from Fear campaign and to remind shoppers that 'It’s your store – respect it'.

David said, “I am shocked that a recent survey by Usdaw shows that over one-third of shopworkers are verbally abused every month in their workplaces where they should be able to work free from mindless abuse. I was particularly concerned that a quarter of staff suffer abuse weekly, and was shocked to discover that 10% of shopworkers are verbally abused on a daily basis.

“I know from visiting stores in Brighton that this is a problem locally. That’s why I welcome the work being done by the City Centre Business Forum and others to combat all kinds of retail crime in our area.

“Shops are the heart of our communities and I know from visiting them what an essential service they provide. But if we don’t tackle a significant minority of shoppers who believe that it is acceptable to abuse shop staff, then we could lose those local stores as retailers seek to protect their workers.”

David added, “I’ve supported a wide range of measures introduced by the Government that could make a real difference to the working lives of retail staff, including Anti-Social Behaviour Orders and Acceptable Behaviour Contracts. Those tough options should be available to tackle persistent offenders which would give shopworkers some much needed protection from a minority of shoppers who think it is acceptable to abuse shop staff.”

John Hannett, Usdaw general secretary, said, “Our members in Brighton are delighted to have the support of David who has been a consistent supporter of our Freedom from Fear Campaign over the last five years. The support of MPs like David has helped reduce physical abuse aimed at retail staff but the levels of vicious verbal abuse, threats and assaults against shopworkers are still too high.

“Usdaw has worked hard with retailers to improve in-store security that has helped protect staff ,but we are urging a minority of shoppers in Brighton who abuse staff to change their behaviour and respect shop workers who are only doing their best to serve their communities.

“Usdaw members need the back-up of their local Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership who have tough powers to tackle anti-social behaviour and the support of David Lepper is vital in making sure that retailers can effectively work with their local Partnership”.

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