After a man dressed as Spiderman kicked a store worker in the throat, unions call on the UK government to beef up laws protecting retail staff

Screenshots of the man dressed as Spider-Man attacking a female Asda worker
Video footage of the incident shows a man, dressed as Spider-Man, kicking a female Asda employee in the throat.

  • A UK union called for tighter laws to protect retail workers after a brawl in a London store.
  • A man dressed as Spiderman kicked a store worker in the throat before punching her to the ground.
  • Acts of aggression against store workers have risen since the start of the pandemic.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A UK union is calling for tighter laws to protect retail staff after a man dressed in a Spiderman suit kicked a store worker in the throat before punching her to the ground.

The mass brawl at a supermarket in South London injured six people. Videos of the attack later appeared online.

London’s Metropolitan Police told Insider that it arrested five people in connection with the incident.

A spokesperson for the formerly Walmart-owned supermarket chain Asda, where the incident occurred, told Insider that it was working closely with the police.

“We do not tolerate any form of violence or abuse towards colleagues or customers,” they said.

Worker unions say this is not an isolated incident.

“Attacks on retail workers are on the increase. Parliament needs to act now to toughen the law,” Mark Wilkinson, senior organizer at the union GMB, which represents over 600,000 workers, said in a statement Friday.

UK retailers have been calling on the government to beef up laws to protect workers. In July, a group of 100 retail businesses signed a letter urging Prime Minister Boris Johnson to take action.

Read more: 7 promising retail tech companies set to boom as labor shortages forces companies to embrace automation and innovation like never before

Acts of customer aggression have risen in the UK and the US since the start of the pandemic – staff members are in the uncomfortable position of having to police mask-wearing in stores or enforce social-distancing rules. Some are quitting retail jobs in search of better pay and working conditions, helping to fuel a labor crunch.

Passenger violence against airplane workers has also soared. A Harvard psychologist told Insider’s Avery Hartman that this was tied to consumers feeling anxious and fearful during the pandemic.

Consumers are “riding really high cortisol,” Luana Marques, associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, told Insider’s Hartman. They have reached “boiling point,” she said.

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Publix offers $125 gift cards to workers who receive the COVID-19 vaccine

Publix grocery store night
  • Employees have to show proof of vaccination and fill out an internal form to receive the gift cards.
  • Publix was among the first to partner with Florida to distribute the Moderna vaccine, a spokesperson told Insider.
  • Workers don’t have to receive the vaccine from Publix Pharmacy.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Publix Supermarkets will offer $125 gift cards to employees who get the manufacturer-recommended doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, the company said.

Employees must show proof of vaccination and fill out an internal form to receive the gift cards, but they don’t have to receive the vaccine at a Publix Pharmacy, according to a press release.

“We care about our associates and customers and believe getting vaccinated can help us take one step closer to getting back to normal,” said Publix CEO Todd Jones in the press release. “We’re encouraging our associates to get vaccinated when they become eligible and doses are available.”

The popular Southern grocery chain has more than 1,200 locations, with the bulk of them in Florida. The company has grown into the largest employee-owned company in the US.

Publix was among the first to partner with the state of Florida after the initial request to distribute the Moderna vaccine, a company spokesperson told Insider.

The supermarket joins a growing list of employers who have offered incentives to workers who receive the two-dose COVID-19 vaccine. 

Target said earlier this month that it will offer four hours of paid time off and pay for Lyft rides for workers to get vaccinated, while Kroger said that it will pay $100 to workers who receive the full manufacturer-recommended vaccine doses.

Other companies have made similar incentives available to employees who get vaccinated.

The two-dose vaccines, including one from Pfizer-BioNtech and another from Moderna, received FDA approval in December. Around 34 million people have received one or more doses since the vaccine approval.

People who are vulnerable to severe COVID-19, like older people, those with other medical conditions, and “essential” workers, including doctors, nurses and grocery workers, have been prioritized, depending on the state.

The vaccine’s initial rollout in the US was laden with delays. The timeline for when COVID-19 vaccines will be available to everyone in the US has slipped into May or possibly June, Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medial advisor, told CNN this week.

Appointments for the vaccine have moved mostly online, but those without internet access or internet savvy are struggling to sign up for their shots, Insider reported Saturday. The people who lack access and time to sign up for the vaccine are the same as those most at risk for contracting and dying from the disease: minorities, homeless, and elderly Americans. 

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