A union’s campaign to protect shop workers from violence, threats and abuse will visit Corby tomorrow (Thursday).
Usdaw is campaigning for respect for shop workers as part of its ‘Freedom From Fear’ pledge.
Members of the union will be joined by Corby Council leader Tom Beattie, who has joined the campaign.
Cllr Beattie said: “Too often retail employees are confronted with violence, threats and abuse and it is really important we stand together and ask people to respect shop workers.
“Data collected by the British Retail Consortium shows that the human cost of retail crime is growing, with a 40 per cent increase in offences involving abuse or violence against shop workers.
“I will continue to campaign with Usdaw for a change in the law to ensure proper punishments are given out.
“We must give a clear message that assaulting workers who are serving the public is totally unacceptable.”
The campaign will visit the Corby Tesco Store on the St James industrial estate at 12.30pm tomorrow.
John Hannett, Usdaw general secretary, said: “Often, in the course of their duties, shop workers are expected to enforce the law, whether that is preventing under-age purchases of products like knives, tobacco or alcohol, or detaining shoplifters until the police arrive, they can be put in real danger.
“Parliament has given shop workers the duty to enforce the law, so Parliament should provide the necessary protection.
“I have been shocked by the leniency of some of the sentences for assault of workers.
“About 200 shop workers are assaulted every day and it is time to say enough is enough.
“The Government must act to address this issue and act quickly.
“I’ve been very disappointed to see Tory and Liberal MPs, on five occasions, combine to block this measure when proposed by Labour.
“The Conservative record on tackling retail crime shows that since 2010 there are 20,000 fewer police and a steady increase in shoplifting, rising eight per cent this year, but the number of shop thieves going to court dropping by a quarter.”
Examples cited by the union include a store manager being spat at and staff members punched when a man was refused alcohol.
Stevie Cassidy, an Usdaw activist from Corby helping to organise the event, said: “Respect Week is a brilliant campaign.
“Here in Corby, we’ve run an event every year, but this will be our biggest to date.
“I’ve worked in stores around the area and sadly this means I’ve witnessed the abuse staff can face in lots of workplaces.
“During Respect Week, the reps in Corby will be talking to staff, letting them know that abuse is not part of the job.
“On Thursday we are running activities throughout the store, talking to customers and asking them to ‘keep their cool’ and respect shop workers, particularly over the busy festive period.
“I am proud that my union is campaigning on this issue and I am pleased that Tom Beattie will be coming to our Thursday event.”