Tesco’s UK CEO has thrown his weight behind a new petition calling the Government to make violence or abuse against retail workers a standalone criminal offence.
The petition, lodged with Parliament this week by a Tesco worker, calls for lawmakers to act and toughen up the laws protecting shop staff.
It comes amid a rising tide of verbal abuse and assaults on retail workers, with Tesco reporting that violent incidents against its store workers are up by a third on this time last year and British Retail Consortium figures showing 850 incidents each day of violence and abuse towards British store staff.
Tesco UK CEO Jason Tarry said he was entirely behind the petition to make the abuse of retail workers a standalone offence.
“We want our colleagues to be safe at work. Creating a standalone offence not only sends a strong message to the small but violent group of people who abuse and attack shopworkers but also makes it clear to shopworkers that, as a nation, we take protecting them seriously.”
He continued encouraging anyone who wants to see retail workers better protected to sign the petition.
“Every signature makes a difference.”
The petition was started by Jenny Whyte, who works in Tesco convenience stores in North England.
“Nobody should come to work afraid that they could be assaulted or abused for just doing their job,” Whyte said.
Whyte said things had gotten worse over the past few years, and some of the incidents that colleagues have had to deal with are shocking. The Government could show it is serious about protecting retail workers on the front line with a specific offence, and she hopes this petition will encourage them to do that.
To tackle the increasing abuse of shopworkers, Tesco has brought in further measures to protect its colleagues, including body cameras that colleagues can wear and new toughened glass safety screens fitted in more than 300 Tesco Express convenience stores and petrol station kiosks.
Thousands of people across Britain have already backed the petition, and if the number of signatories passes 10,000, the Government will have to respond to it. If it gathers 100,000 signatures, it may be debated in Parliament.