Be nice to shop workers this Christmas

12 December 2020
By Tom Collins
tom@TheCork.ie

The Mandate Trade Union, which represents almost 30,000 workers in the retail sector, has called on all employers to strictly adhere to Covid19 protocols as the retail sector reopens in the run-up to Christmas. The Union has also called on consumers to respect retail workers following an increase in abusive behaviour.

Gerry Light, Mandate General Secretary, said the health and safety of workers should always be paramount.

“The current Covid regulations must be strictly adhered to if we are to reduce transmission of this deadly disease and ensure we don’t go into a third lockdown – which would obviously be bad for employers, workers and the economy.

“But crucially, we need to protect the health and wellbeing of retail workers and their families and that includes affording them dignity and respect at work,”

said Light.

He added,

“We have received numerous complaints from retail workers who have been verbally abused or threatened by customers after they were requested to wear masks or to socially distance. Abuse is never part of the job, and in these difficult times, it’s essential that we recognise the efforts of our frontline workers and we all protect them from abusive behaviour.”

Mandate is calling on employers, consumers and the government to ensure the health and safety of workers is paramount.

All employers should:

  • Ensure shops are not overcrowded by managing queuing systems and controlling numbers inside and outside of stores
  • Investigate whether to extend opening times to spread the customer base, while also allowing designated times for vulnerable customers.
  • Allow workers the voluntary option of working beyond their agreed hours and times and adequately rewarding them for this.
  • Strictly adhere to the wearing of face coverings and manage social distancing, using qualified staff to police these policies.
  • Make regular announcements on intercoms about social distancing and other health and safety measures.
  • Ensure an adequate supply of hand sanitizer is available at all times.
  • Adopt a zero tolerance approach from customers towards staff and remove abusive customers from the premises while providing supports for workers.

Mandate is calling on the government to:

  • Provide clarity around the enforcement of fines for the refusal to adhere to Covid regulations.

Mandate is calling on consumers to:

  • Adhere to social distancing guidelines
  • Use hand sanitizer and wash your hands regularly.
  • Be patient with retail staff and other customers and under no circumstances verbally abuse, threaten or assault shop workers.

Mr Light stated:

“Christmas is always a busy and very stressful period for everyone, but particularly shop workers, and this year will be more difficult than most. We’re asking people to be mindful of the pressures facing shop workers and remember that workers requesting that customers abide by health and safety policies do so at the behest of their employer and government regulations.”

He concluded:

“If we are genuine about our appreciation for the ‘essential work’ of retail staff, then we must all play our part over the coming weeks and months. Respect retail workers, and remember that respect is not just for Christmas.”

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