Trade union leader John Hannett has called for greater respect for shop workers, after interim results of an Usdaw survey show that in the last twelve months over 300 frontline retail staff were assaulted every day, just for doing their job.

Speaking at the start of Respect for Shop Workers Week*, John Hannett – Usdaw General Secretary said:

“Too often retail employees are confronted with violence, threats and abuse and it is really important we stand together and ask people to keep their cool and respect shop workers.

Mr Hannett explained that in the course of their duties, shop workers are expected to enforce the law. Whether that is preventing under-age purchases of products like knives, tobacco or alcohol, or detaining shoplifters until the police arrive, they can be put in real danger. Parliament has given shop workers the duty to enforce the law and Parliament said Mr Hannett, before calling for Parliament to also “provide the necessary protection”  He also complained that “It has been disappointing to see Tory and Liberal MPs, on four occasions in the last couple of years, combine to vote down additional legal protections when proposed by Labour.”

Mr Hannett also commented on the sentencing of attackers, saying:

“I’ve been shocked by the leniency of some of the sentences handed out for the assault of workers and our survey shows there is a real need to tackle this problem. Every minute of every day another shopworker is assaulted, threatened or abused and it is time to say enough is enough. The Government must act to address this issue and act quickly.

“Usdaw continues to campaign for a change in the law to ensure that proper punishments are given out. We must give a clear message that assaulting workers who are serving the public is totally unacceptable.”


Respect for Shopworkers Week is an annual campaign week, which is part of Usdaw’s Freedom from Fear Campaign. This year it is 10-14 November and shopworkers up and down the country are organising events to raise awareness with the public about the reality of violence, threats and abuse on the frontline of retail.