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Respect shop workers

March 31st 2020

Now and at all times, Nick Ireland, Divisional Officer of the Union of Shop Distributive & Allied Workers (Usdaw) says its time to show some respect.

As the reality of the Coronavirus hits the population across Wales, one of the immediate responses was a wave of buying, the shopping public emptying the shells of every supermarket of pretty much every line of food. It quickly became apparent that shop workers were facing irrational, rude and sometimes threatening behaviour.

There have been an extra 79 million shopping trips across the UK with sales up 40 % year on year. Sales of frozen food are up a staggering 80%. It was chaos, it was unprecedented and shop workers across Wales did their best to put ever diminishing stock on the shelf, sometimes with it being ripped out of their hands before it reached the shelf.

Shop workers became rightly recognised as key workers.  Many in the population for the first time recognised what a valuable job shop workers perform,  not just in this crisis but every single day. However during this crisis shop workers are putting  themselves at risk, dealing with hundreds of shoppers every day initially with little or no PPE (personal protective equipment) and little or no concept of social distancing or the ability to manage numbers in stores.

The crisis has only just started. The uncertainty and worry to the whole of the world is palpable.  In Wales shop workers will continue to work throughout the crisis, ensuring we can buy bananas and baked beans, working long hours,  often on low pay, and dealing with the shopping public face to face every day.

My union Usdaw has run a ‘respect for shop workers ‘ campaign for many years.  All we ask is that everyone is conscious that over the coming months of uncertainty, when you do your shopping, please be polite, patient and give shop workers the respect they deserve.

Nick Ireland is Divisional Officer for the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers.

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