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One in three Asda staff have been attacked at work, survey finds | Asda

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One in three Asda staff have been attacked at work, according to research that included reports of workers being stabbed, punched and threatened with syringes.

The poll of almost 1,000 members of GMB, one of the UK’s biggest unions, returned stories of delivery drivers being chased by people in cars, while store workers had food thrown at them. More than half (58%) of respondents said they had suffered injury or illness on the job.

Workers told how they had been spat at, suffered broken bones, been hit with bottles, and had death threats against them and their children. Delivery drivers said they had been confronted by customers in the nude, while store workers spoke of having had watermelons and joints of gammon thrown at them.

The issue of attacks on shop workers in the UK has been growing, with reports in February of 1,300 incidents of violence and abuse a day and a battle to control “brazen” acts of shoplifting.

In April a British Retail Consortium report found that instances of violence and abuse in shopping centres rose 65% from 2021-22 to 2022-23. Body armour suppliers say demand for stab vests to be worn by shopping centre security staff has soared in the past two years.

Earlier that month the government announced plans to introduce tougher punishments for serial or abusive shoplifters in England and Wales under a new standalone criminal offence of assaulting a retail worker.

The measure had been due to be appended to the criminal justice bill going through parliament this summer, but that was one of the measures dropped during last month’s “wash-up” – the period when pending legislation is swiftly pushed through before an election.

The Labour leader, Keir Starmer, promised at the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw) annual conference in April to reverse what he called the Tory “shoplifter’s charter” – a rule that means theft of store goods worth less than £200 is not investigated – and the party’s manifesto on Thursday may include the pledge.

In total, 339 people (35%) told the GMB survey they had experienced verbal or physical violence while doing their job. The poll will be discussed at GMB’s annual congress in Bournemouth on Tuesday.

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Nadine Houghton, a GMB national officer, said it was “horrifying” and that “no one should have to suffer this kind of abuse and violence at work”. She added: “But this situation is only going to get worse as staff hours are slashed, leaving less people in store and those who are there more vulnerable.”

A spokesperson for Asda said: “Unfortunately, like all retailers, we have seen an increase of violence and aggression towards our colleagues during the last few years. The safety of our colleagues is a primary concern, which is why we have invested over £30m during the last three years to upgrade the CCTV systems in stores.

“We work with all of our colleague representatives in the important area of colleague security and also back calls for violence or abuse against retail workers to be made a standalone criminal offence in all parts of the UK, and hope this is a priority for any incoming government.”



Read More: One in three Asda staff have been attacked at work, survey finds | Asda

2024-06-10 23:02:34

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