Yvette Cooper MP meets Co-op Food CEO and colleagues in Castleford store in show of support during Respect for Shopworkers Week

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L to r: Swarcliffe store manager Stephen Goodwin, Joanne Thomas (USDAW), Yvette Cooper MP, Area manager Paul Goodman, Jo Whitfield, Castleford store manager Paul Beckett, John Gorle (USDAW), and Gildersome store manager Gemma Clayton

Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford MP, Yvette Cooper, spent time at Co-op’s Castleford store in a show of support during the annual Respect for Shopworker’s Week.

Meeting with Co-op Food CEO, Jo Whitfield and talking to frontline shopworkers, Yvette Cooper MP heard first-hand about the valuable role local stores played in local communities throughout the pandemic, and of the unacceptable levels of violence, abuse and anti-social behaviour faced on a daily basis by retail workers.

Retail trade union Usdaw launched shocking statistics from their annual survey during Respect for Shopworkers Week, it found that in the last 12 months 89% of shopworkers had experienced verbal abuse and, 64% had been threatened by a customer. While the latest figures from the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) Annual Crime Survey showed that violence and abuse against staff has risen to over 450 incidents a day.

Yvette Cooper MP, said: “No one should feel unsafe at work. It’s appalling that violence and abuse against shopworkers has been rising for 5 years – and we’ve seen it too often here in the Five Towns, even though shopworkers have been on the frontline in the pandemic. Too often it is just dismissed as retail crime but it can be devastating for shopworkers. That’s why I’ve been calling in Parliament the Government to strengthen the law and why I’m backing this important campaign by USDAW and the Co-op.”

Jo Whitfield, CEO Co-op Food, said: “Abuse and assaults should not be part of the job, and there is now a real opportunity for Government to provide shopworkers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland with the same protection as they have in Scotland. It is not just the physical impact on colleagues, but the mental wellbeing of frontline shopworkers who face into this behaviour on a daily basis – they should be able to carry out their valued role in local community life free from fear. A workers’ law would send out a clear message and start to bring about a change in the perception that it is ok to attack and abuse shopworkers.”

Co-op has invested over £140m in the latest technology to keep colleagues safe over the past five years and continues to do all it can to protect colleagues, including introducing the latest in remote monitored CCTV and, body-worn cameras that can send real time audio and visual footage to its security operations centre at the touch of a button.