Council supports shopworkers

Shop workers campaign

Midlothian Council is urging local residents to ‘Keep Your Cool at Christmas’ by respecting their local shop worker.

Freedom from Fear

At the full Council meeting on Tuesday, councillors approved a motion to support the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW) Freedom from Fear campaign.

Shop workers shouldn't suffer

Councillor John Hackett, who proposed the motion, said: “We want to show our support to say that shop workers should not suffer while simply going about their jobs.

A stressful time

“At Christmas, tempers can get frayed during the rush to buy presents, but it’s not acceptable at any time of the year to vent those frustrations at local people who are working in a shop and trying to be of service.”

Verbal abuse common

Usdaw surveys its 430,000 members in an annual Freedom From Fear Survey. This survey shows that during 2018, six in 10 shop workers experienced verbal abuse, 37% were threatened by a customer and over 230 shop workers were assaulted every day.

Council commitment

By approving the motion, Midlothian Council believes:

  • Violent crime, threats and abuse are very real hazards for retail workers and the harassment of staff by customers is an all too common event.
  • Abuse is not part of the job. Workers should never have to face abuse, threats or violence when doing their jobs.
  • Employers have a legal and moral obligation to make the working environment as safe as possible for employees and staff should be given appropriate training on how to deal with certain situations.
  • Failure to take the necessary steps to protect staff from harassment could result in the company being open to prosecution under health and safety laws and complaints of harassment should always be taken seriously.
  • Good trade union organisation reduces the risk of bad work practices.

Tackling abuse

As well as publicly supporting the campaign, the council agreed councillors would talk to shopworkers to hear more about their experiences. Councillors will also use links with local police to ensure retail crime is always treated seriously and the often severe impact on victims is appropriately acknowledged. Use links with local business and retail stores to make sure proper workplace procedures are in place and that front-line staff are appropriately supported.

Protecting colleagues

Jim McFedries, Scotmid Co-operative’s Head of Profit Protection, said: “As a community convenience retailer with a sizeable presence across Scotland, Scotmid strongly supports 'Freedom From Fear' to protect our colleagues from violence and abuse.

Making progress

“Unfortunately incidents of this nature happen on an alarmingly frequent basis, so campaigns that can help eliminate this type of behaviour is a progressive step.

“We strongly believe our staff should not be subjected to violence or anti-social behaviour when simply doing their jobs.

Working together

"We are pleased with the progress that has been made in Mayfield over the past year or so; co-operating alongside Mayfield & Easthouses Youth 2000 Project, more commonly known as Y2K and Police Scotland’s Midlothian East Community Ward Office to stage a youth disco which was well received.

A local understanding

"We operate right at the heart of the Mayfield community, so we fully understand and appreciate the difference that events like that can make to help build a better understanding."

In the picture

Cllr John Hackett, who proposed the motion, is pictured with Sid Khan, who is the store manager at the Scotmid in Mayfield. He will be well known to people in Midlothian because he used to manage the Scotmid store in Gorebridge too.

19 Dec 2018