The pandemic crisis has shown us the true heroes in our society: the people who care for us, keep us safe, drive shopping to our doors, and keep the supermarket shelves stocked. All of these people deserve our gratitude and none deserves anger or violence. Yet for thousands of shop workers, anger and violence are a daily event. The Co-op Group reported a 76% rise in reports of anti-social behaviour and verbal abuse towards its staff in 2020 – with more than 100 incidents a day. Workers are being spat at, or threatened with knives and syringes, or verbally abused. The shop workers’ union USDAW, supported by the Cooperative Party, is running the Freedom from Fear Campaign to stamp out threatening behaviour directed towards people working in our local shops. Here in Eastbourne, the local Co-op Party and trade unions are backing the campaign to support shop workers. We support efforts to strengthen the law, as recommended by the home affairs select committee. We want attacks on shopworkers to be treated with the same seriousness as attacks on paramedics, police, nurses or firefighters. Conservative MPs, including local Tory Caroline Ansell oppose this, but we will keep up the pressure.
What you can do:
- Thank a shop worker next time you’re doing the shopping
- Join the Co-operative Party, Labour’s sister party
- If you work in retail, join USDAW
- Use the hashtag #FreedomFromFear
- Write to your local MP or email supporting new laws to protect shop workers.
Paul Richards – Co-Operative Party Rep for Eastbourne Labour