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From The Socialist newspaper, 22 February 2017

Organise to reverse 28% rise in violence against retail workers

Shop workers' union Usdaw campaigns against violence at work

Shop workers' union Usdaw campaigns against violence at work   (Click to enlarge)

Leon Wheddon, Wirral Socialist Party

News that violence against shop workers has gone up by 28% in a year will come as no surprise to those who've worked in the industry. The British Retail Consortium reports that half of retail workers have been verbally abused, and over 8% assaulted.

With cuts to staffing levels, an increase in automation and increases in zero-hour contracts, many workers are alone and vulnerable at work. Some, often themselves desperate as a result of austerity, know this and use it as an opportunity to commit robberies. Hardened criminals can also take advantage, meaning more assaults, safe in the knowledge they stand little chance of being caught and prosecuted.

Shop-floor staff bear the brunt of everything as they are often the only visible person for a customer to vent on.

A staff member will be set unrealistic targets and threatened by managers determined to ring every ounce of profit from some of the most vulnerable and low-paid workers in Britain.

Often this happens in the so-called 'big four' supermarkets where 'the customer is always right' even if they are violent. We subsidise these multibillion-pound companies through tax credits to their poorly paid workers.

The Socialist Party says no to zero-hour contracts and exploitative conditions. We demand an end to bag and locker searches, of having to stand by unpaid while this indignity happens. We demand a minimum wage of 10 an hour regardless of age or employment status.

Everyone should have the right to work with dignity and without fear of abuse.

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