Union says employers need to make customers aware of importance of respect and Government needs to strengthen laws

The Mandate Trade Union has called on members of the public to respect retail workers during the busy and intense Christmas shopping season. The call coincides with UNI Global Union’s international day of action which seeks to raise awareness about the importance of combatting violence and harassment across the retail sector.

Mandate General Secretary, Gerry Light, said that this is an extremely important issue for those working in the various precarious employments across the retail sector.

“The last two years have been extremely difficult for everybody but particularly for retail frontline workers, who continuously served their communities throughout the pandemic and prior to the rollout of a vaccination. The recognition of this fact alone should be the key motivating factor for customers to ensure that retail workers and the environment within which they work is free from violence and harassment. Dignity and respect must transcend across all workplaces, across all people and sections of society.

“Unfortunately, evidence from across the globe seems to indicate that this type of unacceptable behaviour towards retail workers is on the rise resulting in some cases with workers tragically losing their lives. Evidence also supports the reality that women are more likely to be subjected to unacceptable behaviour.”

Gerry Light called on all employers to implement a zero-tolerance approach to safeguarding the safety, health and welfare of all workers.

“Employers cannot remain silent on this issue and Mandate is calling on employers to generate greater customer awareness around this critically important matter and in this regard our members would welcome in-store point-of-sale signage that sends out this clear message.

“As part of our ongoing campaign ‘Respect for Retail Workers’ campaign Mandate is further calling on the Government to review and introduce – as necessary – stronger legislation which outlaws the abuse of workers and prohibits violence in the workplace. Examples of such robust legislation hve already been introduced in other countries like Scotland, Sweden and Australia.” 

Mr Light concluded by saying that respect for retail workers is not just for Christmas – it should be maintained throughout the year – but this time of year does allow for a heightening of awareness around the issue and for a renewed call to customers to show retail workers the same level of support, solidarity, and respect that they unselfishly displayed particularly during the Covid crisis. Whilst recognising that most customers act in a responsible and respectful way, one case of abuse is one too many, Gerry Light said.