SDA Holds Secound Roundtable Discussion on Customer Abuse

This week, the SDA held a second roundtable with the National Retail Association (NRA) and the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) to tackle the customer abuse epidemic in retail and fast food outlets across the country.


The National Customer Abuse & Violence Industry Roundtable brought together major employers, industry peak bodies, NGOs and government organisations from across Australia to discuss how we can prevent retail and fast food workers from copping abuse on the job including hearing from a panel of retail and fast food workers directly about their experiences.


Since the first roundtable in March 2018, the SDA together with industry has made significant progress towards raising awareness about, and reducing the risk of customer abuse, including:


  • SDA consultation with employers and launch of the “Don’t Bag Retail Staff’ advertising campaign calling out customers not to take out frustrations about bans on single use plastic bags on workers

  • Working with employers on their specific policies and training

  • New SDA fast food specific advertising campaign raising awareness about abuse of fast food workers

  • SDA briefing of Federal and State Members of Parliament and Senators about the issue

  • A literature review on solutions for occupational violence in retail and fast food industries

  • Meetings with relevant state or territory agencies including police and government safety regulations

  • Partnered with the AHRC for an in-depth retail and fast food industries survey on the prevalence and impact of customer perpetrated sexual harassment


SDA National Secretary Gerard Dwyer said “Any type of abuse on the job is completely unacceptable, and when you have 85% of retail staff reporting they have been subjected to verbal abuse from a customer and 14% reporting physical violence – you know we’ve got an epidemic on our hands.”


“Retail and fast food workers have told us they routinely have customers swearing and yelling at them, spitting in their faces or threatening them, simply for doing their jobs.


The SDA has asked all employers and stakeholders to make commitment to a zero-tolerance approach to customer abuse and violence.

“Customer abuse is completely intolerable that’s why we’re bringing unions, business and government together to implement ways to stop it.


“It’s encouraging to see such widespread concern and involvement from a range of employers, and we hope that once again this translates into a strong set of short-term and long-term solutions to reduce customer abuse and protect retail and fast food workers.”


The SDA’s “No One Deserves a Serve” campaign first launched across Australia in 2017 to raise awareness about the realities of customer abuse.


In support of this campaign, the SDA conducted research in 2017 and 2018 revealing the widespread abuse from customers being experienced by both retail and fast food workers.  This year the SDA has undertaken further research in relation to sexual harassment perpetrated by customers.


“This abuse can severely impact their physical and psychological health and it cannot continue. Everyone has the right to a safe work environment.”


“We’re hoping to implement a range of solutions to eliminate the amount of customer abuse and violence directed at retail and fast food workers.


“I applaud every organisation and employer’s support for reducing customer abuse in their workplaces as evidenced by their attendance at this important roundtable and encourage them to support our push for a zero-tolerance approach to this behaviour,” Mr Dwyer said.