An additional payment should be made to retail workers experiencing abuse from customers in the run up to Christmas, a union has claimed.

Mandate, which represents 30,000 retail workers, told RTÉ's Morning Ireland there were "worrying reports of increased abuse towards shop workers in recent weeks" with some being kicked, spat at and verbally abused.

Mandate's General Secretary Gerry Light said such a payment should be made by employers or be part of wider rewards reflecting shop workers frontline duties during the pandemic.

"There should be appropriate recognition," Mr Light said.

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"We would say very strongly that the payment, as much as is possible, should be permanent in nature and shouldn’t be a one-off show of gratitude from employers to employees.

"The call we are putting out here is predominantly about health and safety. Christmas is always a very extremely stressful time for retail workers and of course this reality is magnified considerably since the arrival of the Covid pandemic."

increased Covid safety measures are in place around Ireland (Stock image)

Two workers who experienced abuse from customers said they face more abuse from shoppers in the run up to Christmas, because queues are longer, due to greater numbers shopping and increased Covid safety measures.

"In the last three weeks, you can see it, there is a slight air of panic on people when they are shopping. You see customers getting more irate and more aggressive at this time of year," one worker said.

The same worker was recently verbally abused by a woman who could not get gluten free black pudding because it was out of stock.

"In the last couple of weeks we are trying to pack the shelves and customers are telling us: 'get out of the way' and 'you shouldn’t be my way’

"Three weeks ago this woman came and she asked me did we have the black pudding and I said ‘no, we are out of stock’. It was a gluten free black pudding.

"She said ‘why don’t you f*****g have it? It’s missing for the last three f****ing weeks. What kind of a f*****g supermarket is this?’" the worker said.

Another shop worker in the west of Ireland said he was spat at, called names, cursed at and kicked at when managing the number of people allowed in to the shop where he works.

Mandate said it is seeing an increase in these types of incidents on the run-up to Christmas. It is calling for the customers to respect shop workers, which it said are essential frontline workers.

Mandate's Gerry Light (Photo:

However, Mr Light added the majority of customers are supportive and respectful of shop workers.

He added Christmas is "always a difficult time for retail workers, but the prolonged nature of the Covid-19 pandemic and the recent spike in numbers is clearly exacerbating the stress levels this year".

During the pandemic, some retailers paid shop worker additional payments of 10%. Some companies have kept these arrangements, while others have not.

Mr Light added that Mandate is constantly in contact with employers addressing wage levels, basic pay and payment arrangements.

The union is also calling on employers to adopt a zero-tolerance approach to Covid-19 health and safety guidelines.