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USDAW Respect for Shopworkers

Fifty years on a Different Frontline

Eighty-six year old Ted White of Eastleigh was delighted to join staff at the Tesco Extra in Bursledon as part of the national Respect for Shopworkers Week organised by the shopworker’s union USDAW. “I’ve been an Usdaw member 50 years, many things have changed, but the danger of being attacked at work hasn’t.” Ted said.

Ted was joined by Mark Latham, the Eastleigh Labour candidate who said "Raising awareness of this issue is important as every minute of the working day another shopworker is verbally abused, threatened with violence or physically attacked. Here in Eastleigh over 1 in 5 jobs are in the retail sector, and shop staff, especially shift workers, deserve respect and need protection. Often the sentence for shoplifting is harsher than that for assaulting shopworkers."

(L to R: Marion Ferguson, Ted White, Mark Latham and Mark Illingworth.)

Throughout Hampshire incidents of violence in and around shops, especially those selling alcohol, are frequent. In Andover last month police patrols were stepped up following the injury of a Tesco Express security guard and in Portsmouth recently a 24 year old shop worker was assaulted in a Co-op store for pointing out the policy on customer’s dogs.

Most concerning of all were the video clips of 'Black Friday' on the news and internet, where shop workers, working at midnight, were confronted with angry crowds so desperate for a bargain TV that they frequently resorted to violence. Exposing staff to this is unacceptable. Being safe at work is a basic right.

Ted and Mark met with Tesco shift workers Marion Ferguson and Mark Illingworth at the Bursledon store, who told them about the fear of drunken shoppers late of night. “Freedom from fear means that accepting abuse is not part of the job.” Mark Latham said.

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