Fabian Demicoli

Addressing Third Party Violence in Retail

GRTU was represented by Council member Marcel Mizzi at a workshop meeting in Rome on Implementing the Multisectoral Guidelines on Third Party Violence. Approximaltely one in ten workers in the European Union are experiencing some sort of third party violence or harrassment at their place of work. The violence comes from either work collegues or from third parties such as customers and clients.

 

 

 

This workshop was the second in a series of similar workshops organised through EU funding by European Employers and Commerce Trade Union organisations as well as private security, local and regional government, education and health sectors all of which are being effected by this phenomenon.  These sectors have together already produced a set of guidelines and procedures with the aim of mitigating this increasing trend. These incidents at work have a direct impact on the productivity of employees and often result in absenteesm as well as poor performance.  

The current guidelines include :

  • A clear definition of third party violence
  • Recognising of safe work places and how they can be improved
  • Awareness raising
  • Monitoring and follow up procedures
  • Provision of "after incident" support
  • Processes for evaluation

 

 

 

Various member states have already taken the lead in implementing these guildlines, not least of which is Italy through the work of Confcommercio who have introduced printed quidelines which are distrubuted to business owners and employees. These guidelines instruct workers how to handle these situations. The document defines specific behaviours that should be recognised and mitigated against. It also outlines what the employee should do and how he should react to be effective in helping the police in securing an arrest later on.  Confcommercio have also organised courses for Shopping Mall Security staff and other security enforcement personell. The organisation is also using a software application called "Keycrime" which aims to predict where crime is going to occur next. Their representative stated that they had seen some success using this application. Confcommercio's presentation was followed by a presentation by representatives from Norway who also explained the progress they have made in their country which mostly consists of awareness raising so far.

Following the various presentations, the representatives present were divided into work groups and withdrew into various different rooms to discuss possible implementation strategies and ideas. From each workgroup a representative was then selected to make a presentation.

Mr. Mizzi on behalf of GRTU reported on the progress that was bieng made in Malta with respect to these guildines. He explained the initiative that GRTU was leading together with the ETC to inlcude subjects such as handling third party violience in commerce as part of the ETC sales courses and qualifications. He stressed that he would like to see a homogenous system in sales qualifications that would be the same across member states.  He said that it is strange that many qualifications are recognised while there is no set formula for a sales qualification, both in terms of content and recognition. Crime and third party violence in commerce are unfortunately common across member states and having a homogenous sales qualification across states would certainly be a first step in implementing the quidlines being discussed here.  Mizzi also mentioned initiaves such as the closed circuit camera systems that were installed in Valletta main streets a few years ago. These were a "best practice" story as they were paid by the shop owners and are connected to the police head quarters.  This initiave is only costing the tax payers money in terms of human resources at the police HQ but has been effective in reducing shop lifting and "snatch and grab" incidents in Valletta. This is a perfect example of what could be done to help mitigate against third party violence.  Mizzi stressed that education is the key to tackling these issues. While organisations such as GRTU can certainly be instrumental in educating SMEs, the task of educating the general public is beyond the remit or capabilities of the GRTU.  He said that since Malta joined the EU customers are being constantly told that they have rights as consumers which is of course correct and important, however, it is also a major cause of arguments with shop assistants and owners as they sometimes imagine that they have more rights that they actually have and tend to get into heated arguments trying to prove their point. Again sales people can be educated about consumer rights and even here GRTU has made sure that the ETC Sales qualifiaction includes this information.

Mr Mizzi recognised that as part of the implementation of these guideliness, raising awareness amongst the  organisations whose sectors are effected should be first priority. To his knowledge there is no single unbrella organisation that could perform this task. At this particular workshop, for example, only  GRTU and the MUT (Malta Union of Teachers) were represented. These are two organisations that would otherwise not be linked at all back in Malta. He said that perhaps a solution would be to disseminate the information through the local EU represenatative office but this could also prove difficult. The ideal method, would be to organise meetings in Malta and invite all the potentially interested organisations. Admittedly, Mizzi said, this could not be done in all members states as the current funding for this project would not be enough to cover the costs involved.

It is clear that the effects of Third Party Violence at the place of work is causing loss of competitive advantage and value added to business and non-business organisations. The implementation of these guild lines as part of the fight against this type of violence is therefore important and GRTU aims to continue to endeavour in this regard.

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