Shop staff and celebrating Christmas

A woman walks past a Christmas tree in Trinity Leeds shopping centre in Leeds, Yorkshire, as England

Respect shop workers while doing your Christmas shopping - Credit: PA

Consideration for shop staff

Paddy Lillis, general secretary, Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw), writes:
The run-up to Christmas is always a really busy time for retail workers, shoppers can be stressed and things can boil over. This year is likely to be even more stressful as a result of recent lockdowns and worries around coronavirus.
I want to gently remind your readers to remember that shop workers are people as well. They will be working really hard to make your shopping experience as enjoyable as possible.
Talking to our members who work in retail, I know that verbal abuse cuts deep. 
Many will go home after a shift upset about an unpleasant incident that took place at work that day and worried that it will happen to them again.
During this appalling pandemic we have been shocked to find that incidents of violence, threats and abuse against shop workers have doubled. The main flashpoints are enforcing Covid rules, queueing and shortage of stock. None of these are the fault of shop workers, but too often they end up on the wrong side of customers’ frustrations.
That is why Usdaw, the shop workers’ trade union, is asking customers to “Keep your Cool” at Christmas.
I would also like to ask your readers to support our members by signing the petition to protect shop workers at

Trevor Ellis, Chalkhill Road, Wembley, writes:
For weeks I have listened to interviews with business persons who express frustration about the effect lockdowns are having on their ability to make a living, particularly during the month and date that is assumed to be the birthday of Jesus Christ. That continues irrespective of the fact that few in the first two Christian centuries claimed any knowledge of the exact day on which he was born. I no longer celebrate my birthday. Even if I did, I wouldn’t tell friends and family that wanted to send a card etc that I was born on December 25 if I knew that the actual month and date was April 1.
Furthermore, I question the way this so-called “Christian celebration” is marked by the selling of fake green trees and Santa Claus items, neither have any connection to the founder of Christianity.
Then there is the other tradition of gorging ourselves on mince pies, turkeys and roast potatoes and, let’s face it, businesses and advertising work together to encourage that for the same reason that they continue linking Christianity to a certain tree and a mythical character with facial hair and dressed in a red costume.
Now, I wouldn’t be surprised if readers consider my view as Scrooge-like, because I view Christmas as a selfish, misguided tradition in which businesses exploit the evident apostasy. 
It’s all very well having appealing for donations at this time of the year for the benefit of those who are poor or homeless, yet governments consistently fail to adequately address them. I saw a young lady who was sitting outside the entrance of a train station during wet and extremely cold weather with a piece of cardboard in her hands. I felt pity for her and regret that I was unable to help her but I also felt upset after hearing about the prime minister Boris Johnson travelling to Europe for a Brexit-based lunch with Ursula von der Leyen.
He is lucky to be able to eat while many citizens in his country can’t.

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