Martin Whitfield MSP is again backing the annual Respect for Shopworkers Week, which runs from 13-19 November.

Run by retail trade union, Usdaw, the campaign raises awareness of the union’s year-round Freedom from Fear Campaign and promotes a message of ‘respect for shopworkers’ to the public.

As this year’s week got underway, Usdaw launched shocking statistics from their annual Freedom From Fear survey of  over 3,000 retail staff across the UK. The results show that in the last twelve months:

  • 65% have experienced verbal abuse.
  • 42% were threatened by a customer.
  • 5% were assaulted.
  • 60% of these incidents were triggered by shoplifting and two-thirds of those were linked to addiction.

Martin Whitfield MSP said: 

“Violence, abuse or threats towards retail workers is unacceptable under any circumstances. However, Usdaw’s annual survey of its members has shown that they continue to face the regular risk of verbal abuse and physical assault in the workplace.

“I will always stand with shop staff and other retail workers against abuse and aggression. I also join the union in urging the public to be respectful of workers not only during the festive period, but all year round.”

Tracy Gilbert, Usdaw Regional Secretary for Scotland, said:

“Shopworkers deserve far more respect than they receive and these experiences from Scottish retail workers make very difficult reading. Our latest survey results clearly show the scale of the appalling violence, threats and abuse they face.

“Two-thirds of our members working in retail are suffering abuse from customers, with far too many experiencing threats and violence. Six in ten of these incidents were triggered by theft from shops, which is clearly the result of a 21% increase in incidents of shoplifting as recorded by Police Scotland. Our survey demonstrates that shoplifting is not a victimless crime, theft from shops has long been a major flashpoint for violence and abuse against shopworkers.

“Our members are not only in fear of being a victim of crime, they are distressed that too few criminals are being caught and punished. Faced with such appallingly high levels of violence and abuse much more needs to be done. We were delighted to have won the campaign for a protection of workers law in the Scottish Parliament, but that is the beginning not the end. We have to ensure that the legislation is central to tackle a growing wave of retail crime and Usdaw looks forward to working with Police Scotland to make that happen.

“This week Usdaw activists are campaigning in their workplaces and communities calling on the shopping public to ‘respect shopworkers’ and ‘keep your cool’, particularly in the run-up to Christmas when the number of incidents increases as shops get busy and customers become frustrated. This is a hugely important issue for our members and they are saying loud and clear that enough is enough.”

Find out more about Respect for Shopworkers Week at