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. @ca99832245/Twitter
  • 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.

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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.