ALMOST 90 percent of retail workers suffered abuse at work last year, their union says.

An Usdaw survey of 2,729 shop workers published today found that 88 percent experienced verbal abuse, 61 percent were threatened by a customer and nine percent were assaulted.

Shopworkers reported that they are dealing with everything from being threatened with being stabbed after work to being grabbed by the neck and pushed against the wall.

Retail workers argued that the pandemic has brought out the worst behavior in people, with many fielding cases of abuse for limiting items during the lockdown and for making people queue and wear a mask.

The Westminster government has repeatedly rejected calls from Usdaw to place offenses against shop workers into a special category with severe penalties.

But the Scottish Parliament was due to vote as the Star went to print yesterday on ground-breaking legislation to protect retail staff.

The Protection of Workers (Retail and Age-Restricted Goods & Services) (Scotland) Bill will make it a specific offense to abuse, threaten or assault a shop worker, and is being promoted by Labour’s Daniel Johnson MSP.

Usdaw divisional officer Stewart Forrest said: “Shopworkers have been on the front line throughout the coronavirus crisis, helping to ensure our communities remain fed, despite the risks of contracting the virus.

“The latest stats we have released today clearly show the scale of abuse they have endured and the need for a change in the law.

“Retail staff has a crucial role in our communities and that role must be valued and respected, they deserve the protection of the law.”