We should all be clapping in support of shopworkers as well as the NHS

People forget shopworkers are key workers, says Rachel Moore, who applauds Morrisons' decision to pa

People forget shopworkers are key workers, says Rachel Moore, who applauds Morrisons' decision to pay all their staff at least £10 per hour - Credit: PA

An attempt to revive the Thursday Clap for the NHS was an unsurprising flop.

Weariness by what feels like an empty gesture is compounded by the overdue realisation that more heroes are risking their health and safety every day for the general public than those on the medical front line.
It’s not just nurses, doctors and paramedics who bear the brunt of the worst of human nature going about their jobs.

Shopworkers, especially supermarket workers, are enduring more than their fair share of vile and abuse treatment by keeping retail open to feed us.

Every day, customer-facing workers go to work worried about what they might bring home to their families from people who have no respect whatsoever for their safety.

Their days, earning less than £10 an hour, are spent face-to-face with thousands of strangers, many of whom are definitely not following government advice to act as if they had the virus when around other people.

As if risking the threat of contracting Covid isn’t enough, they have the extra worry about abuse, violence and anti-social behaviour that they say has become “normalised” and has reached “unprecedented levels” in supermarket aisles.

Every day more than 400 retail workers are abused, attacked or assaulted and coronavirus is making it worse.

One national retailer experienced over 100 incidents a day of threats of coughing and spitting, threatening shop workers who are not protected by PPE like hospital workers.

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They feel unarmed and exposed going about a low paid job.

They are expected to deliver service with a smile while enduring ‘customers’ who invaded their personal space, barge into them, rudeness and, at most, coughing and spitting on them, if challenged about their behaviour.

They’ve been faced with customers who refused to wear masks. They are shop workers not police or security guards and should never been expected to challenge mask refuseniks.

Mask refuseniks are provoking people to challenge them and up for a fight. A shop floor worker should never be expected to take the brunt.

Morrisons became the first supermarket to refuse entry to people not wearing masks without a medical exemption and also the first UK supermarket this week to increase its workers’ pay to £10 an hour. The least they deserved.

I’m ashamed to live in a society where people think it is right to abuse and put in danger people doing their job.

It’s bad enough to witness ignorant rudeness and snapping at shopworkers, but intimidation of them and putting their safety at risk when they have no choice but to go out and earn their income in such a hideous environment is sickening and should never be tolerated.

The rules clearly state people should shop alone but every visit there are families of four and five blocking aisles, oblivious to other shoppers, children rampaging around, making their trip to the shop a day out.

People forget they are key workers. If they decided to have a mass walk out and went on strike, where would we be then?
Slowly the message has hit home that these people need protection, and a campaign to make supermarket and other essential retail workers priority in the coronavirus vaccine programme.

If they can’t expect common human decency and respect at work, at least they can be protected from infection.

Not one for signing petitions, it’s only week two of 2021 and my signature is already supporting two this year – including the no-brainer vaccinate the forgotten and invisible heroes of the pandemic, shop workers

The second was to cut university students’ annual tuition fees this academic year from £9,250 to £3,000.

Anticipating eye rolls from older readers thinking “blinking students again”, I’d ask each of them to consider, would you be happy to pay for a service you haven’t received?

Especially, as it’s paid for by debt to which hefty interest will be added after graduation.

Thought so. Those annual fees buys a quota of teaching, laboratory, seminar and tutor time. If that time is not delivered and the teaching served falls short of the ‘contract’, then students deserve to be refunded.

These students still face the same exams and won’t be thrown any pandemic points when it comes to their grading.

Universities say they are businesses and need the money nonetheless. That has been completely transparent since they sold so many families a pup to get young people to enrol and be in place last September to ensure the income.

But it shouldn’t be the short-changed customer that pays for such monumental shortcomings in delivery.

School meal shambles: This pandemic has shown,  to the UK’s shame, the polarisation of wealth and poverty, shining a bright light on a widening gulf.

No one could have looked  at the paltry contents of free school meal parcels supplied by a private contractor worth a fraction of the £15 it was supposed to cost shared on social media by parents and footballer Marcus Rashford this week and not thought “what the hell?”

And it was the latest in a long line of government outsourcing disasters – PPE, laptops for homeschooling, Track and Trace – totalling tens of billions of pounds.

The Government procurement machine needs putting in special measures.

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