Lanarkshire Asda worker 'hit with walking stick' as staff face barrage of abuse from customers

Asda is the UK's third largest supermarket chain.
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)


Asda has been urged to offer better protection to staff after a concerning survey found they were regularly being threatened or assaulted by customers.

On one occasion, an employee at a store in Lanarkshire was hit by a customer wielding his walking stick like a club. The same worker had a honeydew melon thrown at her.

A poll carried out by the GMB union found workers endured foul-mouthed abuse, threats of violence and physical assault. Some Asda staff reported being punched and others threatened with knives, the Record reports.

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Colleagues in other Scots stores told how they had been deliberately rammed by shopping trolleys and had their hand slammed in fridge doors by angry customers.

A total of 339 Asda workers (35 per cent) told the GMB they had been a victim of verbal or physical violence whilst carrying out their job.

The survey, published at the union's annual congress in Bournemouth today, also revealed 58 per cent of respondents had suffered injury or illness at work.

Louise Gilmour, GMB Scotland secretary, said the catalogue of violence and injury revealed by the poll was horrifying.

She said: "The verbal and physical abuse revealed in this survey is completely unacceptable but only the tip of the iceberg.

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"Many, possibly most, of the incidents are not being properly reported, recorded or investigated. No one should go to work worried about physical assault. No one should go to work expecting to suffer verbal abuse.

"Asda must ensure staff are given every possible protection as an absolute priority."

Workers in Asda stores in Scotland revealed a toll of verbal abuse and physical violence often involving drunken customers in the survey.

A female staff member in Lanarkshire said: "I have had someone throw a honeydew melon at me as he had an argument with his wife and took it out on me."

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Another female staff member added: “I refused to serve a member of the public with alcohol due to him being under the influence of something and being verbally abusive to his girlfriend and shouting and swearing in general with his friend.

"I called for the duty manager, and when I said that I wasn't serving his friend either, he punched the duty manager.”

Another worker in Fife said: “I have been punched, spat on and threatened to be stabbed on separate occasions.”

A spokesman for Asda said: “Unfortunately, like all retailers we have seen an increase and violence and aggression towards our colleagues during the last few years.

"The safety of our colleagues is a primary concern, which is why we have invested over £30m during the last three years to upgrade the CCTV systems in stores. We have also provided colleagues with body-worn cameras, hired extra security guards in certain stores and amended store opening times when required.

"We work with all of our colleague representatives in the important area of colleague security and also back calls for violence or abuse against retail workers to be made a standalone criminal offence in all parts of the UK and hope this is a priority for any incoming Government."