DOZENS of shoppers signed a petition at an Alloa supermarket last week, calling on fellow customers to 'Keep Your Cool' as part of a campaign by staff.

Employees at Morrisons joined with trade union Usdaw during Respect for Shopworkers Week, sending a loud message that abuse is not part of their job.

The Freedom From Fear campaign ran with a Keep Your Cool theme and comes just ahead of an often stressful and busy festive period.

Frank McElroy, a customer assistant at the Alloa store, along with members of the team, were engaging with customers last Thursday, November 16, and were asking for signatures of support for a petition that will be delivered to policy makers.

He told the Advertiser that abuse of shopworkers is "unacceptable" and that the union is calling for additional legal protection for workers on the job.

Their proposals, if enacted, would mean an assault on a shopworker would be subject to stiffer punishments, much like attacks on police officers, ambulance crews and firefighters under the Emergency Workers (Scotland) Act 2005.

Frank said: "We think it should be the same for shopworkers, it's not part of our job [to be abused]."

The staff had been speaking to people coming through the door since the morning on the day and managed to collect several pages worth of signatures.

"They [the customers] think it's disgusting that it's still happening", added Frank.

Incidents often occur when staff ask to prove they are of age before purchasing restricted products like alcohol or tobacco.

Frank said: "It's part of our job [having to ID people] – we could lose our license, the shop could close, we'd lose our jobs if we served someone under 18."

When incidents occur, the best shop assistants can do is try and calm the customer down or call the authorities if necessary.

The customer assistant added: "You just tell them that it's nothing to do with us, it's against the law."

According to the trade union's own annual survey, there are still "far too many" workers who are suffering from violence or abuse, but do not report incidents.

In his campaign message, general secretary John Hannett said: "It is incredibly important that as part of this campaign, we work together to encourage people to report any abuse or violence that they experience so that we can push employers to take real action against it."