SHOP staff in Huddersfield are pleading to be taken out of the firing line.

They claim they are constantly subjected to horrific verbal and physical abuse by customers.

And now they have joined a national campaign to highlight the problems they say they suffer from the public.

The Union of Shop and Distribution Allied Workers (Usdaw) has joined forces with the Trade Union Council to launch the nationwide Freedom From Fear campaign.

The campaign follows an earlier call by Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman for greater courtesy to shop staff.

He wanted to make Huddersfield a courtesy capital of the country.

The Freedom From Fear comes to Huddersfield on September 17, when shopworkers and trades unionists will seek public support.

The workers have numerous tales to recount of abuse, ranging from vicious beatings to torrents of foul-mouthed abuse.

Steve Maundrill, the Usdaw official for Huddersfield, said: "It happens every day, every night, in the small corner shop, the big supermarkets and the filling stations.

"Many workers are subjected to frightening abuse and many others to assaults.

"Not every shop has security staff or cameras and the customers think they can get away with it.

"Our members are terrified and certainly we know of several that have quit, rather than face it day after day."

The campaign was launched after a national survey of Usdaw members - there are 400 in Huddersfield alone - showed their top concern was violence and abuse from members of the public.

Incidents ranged from threats used when staff confronted shoplifters, to guns being used in armed robberies.

Bob Stoker, secretary of the Huddersfield TUC, said violence had increased in Huddersfield.

He said: "Huddersfield is like any other area, shop workers here do suffer abuse and violence.

"Violence has been more serious recently. There has been an increase in armed robberies.

"We will be asking people to pledge to respect shop workers. Shop workers need better safety."

Usdaw members will man a campaign stall outside the Kingsgate Shopping Centre on September 17 from noon to 1.30pm.

They will also be asking people to pledge to respect shopkeepers and sign a petition for Government action.

The petition will be delivered to 10 Downing Street in the near future.


THE manager of a Huddersfield supermarket was badly hurt.

He challenged a suspected shoplifter who had walked into the store and was viciously beaten.

The manager was knocked to the floor as he tussled with the man.

He was kicked repeatedly in the head and body as he lay helpless on the floor.

He had to have hospital treatment for his injuries.


A MOTHER with young children was one of many people to face verbal abuse.

She was on the checkout at a busy Huddersfield store, using an electronic scanner to price goods.

A man who had been waiting in the queue shouted and swore at the woman, using filthy language and blaming her for holding him up as she scanned his purchases.

Security staff dealt with the man, but the assistant was very distressed and upset.

Related stories