The Mandate Trade Union, which represents 30,000 workers in the retail sector is calling for customers to respect essential frontline workers, including those working in shops in what is the most stressful time of the year.
The union said it has received worrying reports of increased abuse towards shop workers in recent weeks with the prolonged nature of the Covid-19 pandemic and the recent spike in numbers clearly exacerbating the stress levels in what is already a busy period for workers.
"Abuse is not part of the job and it costs nothing to show respect and support to the workers who have kept our shelves full throughout the pandemic," Mandate General Secretary Gerry Light said.
“We are asking customers to have heightened levels of awareness of the difficulties facing shop workers."
Mandate is also renewing its call on employers to adopt a zero-tolerance approach in the application of all health and safety/shop safety guidelines.
“We have seen videos of customers verbally abusing workers in recent days. Employers must do all they can to support their staff when this happens,” said Mr Light.
He also said employers should protect shopworkers and make sure that are not put in the firing line by requesting customers to wear masks or to social distance.
“Shopworkers have been on the frontline and were the hardest hit cohort during the second and third waves of the virus. There’s no doubt that they have been impacted heavily by this current wave too. The least they deserve is a bit of patience and respect."