MIDLOTHIAN residents are being encouraged to treat service workers with respect during the often-fraught festive period.
Tempers can fray in shopping queues and worries about paying for presents can bubble to the surface.
But there is never an excuse for taking out frustrations on those working in the service industry, says Midlothian Council leader, Derek Milligan.
Speaking at the launch of the Usdaw union’s Freedom from Fear campaign at the Co-op in Bonnyrigg, Cllr Milligan said: “The message is that abuse is not part of the job for shopworkers. However, the same is true whether you are one of the council’s roadworkers, a carer, a taxi driver or working in a pub.
“No one that works in any service industry should put up with harassment from customers. But getting angry and shouting at someone clearing your bin or serving in a shop can unfortunately happen all year round.”
The Freedom from Fear campaign includes a leaflet for members with help and advice on how to handle abusive customers and staff rights.
Liz McGeachy, of the Bonnyrigg Co-op’s customer care team, said: “People can get angry when queues are long and, for example, we ask for ID if they are buying alcohol. We are only doing our job and following the law.”
Council road worker Graeme Barton agreed: “We had people shouting at us, especially last year in the snow. When you are working as hard as you can in freezing weather from five in the morning, it’s hard to take.”
Neil Patterson, manager of the Dean Tavern in Newtongrange, said the festive season can bring out the worst in people: “Strict licensing laws help, in that we simply don’t serve someone who has had too much to drink.”
Councillor Milligan said complaints about Midlothian Council should be made in an appropriate way: “We need to know when we are getting things wrong, just as we like to hear when we are getting it right.”