Asda herbs staff

The GMB polled almost 1,000 Asda staff to understand violence against Asda workers

More than a third of Asda workers say they have been a victim of verbal or physical violence while carrying out their job, according to a new survey by the GMB.

The union said workers had been stabbed, punched and threatened with syringes as part of the growing wave of violence.

In Its poll of almost 1,000 Asda workers revealed they had been spat at, suffered broken bones, been hit with bottles and even faced death threats against them and their children.

The survey is to be discussed at GMB’s annual congress in Bournemouth today.

“These incidents are horrifying – no one should have suffer this kind of abuse and violence at work,” said GMB national officer Nadine Houghton.

In February, a BRC poll said violence and abuse against people working in the retail sector had risen by 50% to 1,300 incidents a day in 2023, as supermarkets called for the government and the police to take more action.

In April, the government announced plans to introduce tougher punishments for serial or abusive shoplifters in England and Wales under a new standalone criminal offence of assaulting a retail worker.

However, the measure was dropped because the lack of time to bring in measures after Rishi Sunak called the general election.

Labour has criticised the government for its lack of action and is expected to promise measures in its election manifesto.


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An Asda spokesman 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.”

The GMB is embroiled in an ongoing row with Asda bosses over alleged cuts to hours, which Houghton claimed would make staff more vulnerable.

“This situation is only going to get worse as staff hours are slashed, leaving less people in store and those who are there more vulnerable.”

She said staff on the front line were “bearing the brunt”.

Asda has strongly denied the union’s claims over cuts to hours, saying it had invested more than £400m in pay since the record £150m in pay acquisition of Asda by the Issa brothers and TDR Capital completed in June 2021.