Threatening and Abusive Behaviour in the Retail Sector

April 23, 2019


Shoplifting has been an ongoing concern that UFCW has been raising with employers and members over the past several years, but in a recent event, a suspected shoplifter pulled a gun and threatened employees, management and customers at a Superstore. Thankfully nobody was physically hurt during this incident, but we are calling on retail employers to work harder and ensure incidents like this don't happen again.

The following letter has been sent to Loblaw, Red River Co-op, and Sobeys senior management:




Re: Threatening and Abusive Behaviour in the Retail Sector

As you are likely aware, the incidents of abusive and threatening shoplifting behaviours have increased substantially over the past year in the retail sector. Regardless of which employer our retail members work for, the issues are the same. Violent shoplifting more frequently includes weapons and very threatening behaviour. Our members are afraid they will be hurt. While all employers have policies on not engaging with shoplifters, the expectation of store management or their coworkers are often different, adding to the stress of this situation. Policies on this issue are not enough to fully address the problem.

We believe that a retail strategy is urgently needed on this issue to avoid a serious injury.

We would like to schedule a meeting to discuss the steps that the Company and the Union can take to address this issue immediately and to develop a long-range strategy to keep our members safe at work.

Some of the immediate concerns from our members are the following:

  1. Going to and from the stores particularly in the early morning hours and later in the evening.
  2. Lighting in the parking lots
  3. Closing up the store at the end of the day with minimal staff remaining
  4. Backrooms being open and accessible to shoppers are being used by shoplifters as a place to hide and threaten staff
  5. Cashiers spread out along the front end, rather than working in clusters
  6. Carrying cash trays while the public is in the store

These issues and many more peripheral issues need to be addressed immediately to ensure a safe retail work environment. At UFCW we are committed to fully addressing this issue and we will be reaching out to Manitoba Workplace Safety and Health, the Winnipeg Police Service as well as to each retail employer to devise an appropriate safe work plan. We also intend to hold open member forums to address these issues. We expect as an employer in this industry that you share our concerns and are prepared to act on this matter.

We look forward to hearing from you.


Jeff Traeger, 

Bea Bruske,


This is a first step that your union is taking to ensure that our members are guaranteed a safe work environment.

Stay tuned for more to come!

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