Preet Kaur Gill, MP for Edgbaston in Birmingham has spent time at Co-op’s Hagley Road store in a show of support during the annual Respect for Shopworker’s Week. 

Frontline shopworker’s have played a key role throughout the pandemic, however levels of violence, abuse and anti-social behaviour affecting all retailers have never been higher. 

Retail trade union Usdaw has launched shocking statistics from their annual survey during this year’s annual Respect for Shopworkers Week, 15-21 November, and found that in the last 12 months 89% of shopworkers had experienced verbal abuse and, 64% had been threatened by a customer. While the latest figures from the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) Annual Crime Survey showed that violence and abuse against staff has risen to over 450 incidents a day. 

Preet Kaur Gill MP, said: “It was a pleasure to visit Co-op’s Hagley Road store today. We owe so much to all keyworkers who worked so hard during the pandemic and beyond to keep us safe and healthy. They’ve worked hard to keep our shops open, our shelves stocked, and vital food and supplies available to us all. Shopworkers were those who were on the frontline and deserve our respect.  

“But beyond that, abusing those that are trying to help us should never be tolerated. Despite that, already unacceptably high levels of violence towards them have skyrocketed. Too often this behaviour occurs around the enforcement of statutory age restrictions, such as asking people for identification when buying alcohol. 

“It’s absolutely vital that as retail workers enforce the laws that we in Parliament set for them, we also ensure they have the proper protection they need to do so. I will continue to fight on their behalf for greater protection for those working in retail.” 

Phil Senior, Co-op’s Area Manager, added: “Shopworkers work at the heart of communities and played an amazing role, especially throughout the pandemic, and so we are delighted that Preet Kaur Gill MP was able to meet and talk to frontline colleagues. While the majority of customers are fantastic, and really value the role their local store plays in the community, the abuse and assaults that frontline shopworkers can face on a daily basis should not be part of the job. It is not just the physical impact on colleagues, but their mental wellbeing too. We have had colleagues pushed, shoved, spat at and threatened with knives. Shopworkers should be able to carry out their role in local community life free from fear.” 

Co-op has invested over £140m in the latest technology to keep colleagues safe over the past five years and continues to do all it can to protect colleagues, including introducing the latest in remote monitored CCTV and, body-worn cameras that can send real time audio and visual footage to its security operations centre at the touch of a button.