Sadly, dealing with abusive and violent customers is increasingly becoming the norm for retail and fast food workers.
The SDA, the Union for workers in retail and fast food, is concerned about the immediate and long-term health and safety risks for workers.
Following extensive surveying of workers in the industries, the Union hopes to tackle this issue to make workplaces safer and prevent abuse and violence from happening.
The abuse and violence can range from spitting to offensive language.
Examples below highlight how horrifying this is for workers who have no control over the behaviour of customers.
- “I have had customers throw products at me because of simple things such as a product is out of stock. I’ve had my face spat on, slapped across the face and had one person throw a swing to punch me and miss (I dodged it).”
- “Once a team member was held up with a syringe.”
- “I have been spat at. I have had a hot roast chicken and a bag of salad thrown at me.”
- “I’ve had a man run at me carrying a sword while I was changing promotional boards, mistaking me for another person.”
- “A guy said to me that because the weather was so hot, I should take my top off.”
- “Other team members have been slapped in the face, one manager was grabbed by the throat and choked against a wall. We get yelled at and abused all the time.”
This behaviour is unacceptable. There is no excuse for abuse.
All workers have a right to a safe workplace. The SDA continues its work to address this issue to ensure better measures are put in place to protect workers.
The SDA is raising awareness about this issue during our annual health and safety week, Safety Demands Action Week, 7 – 14 August 2017.
If you would like more information, contact the Member Support Hotline on 8139 1000.
If customer abuse or violence is impacting on your mental health, contact Lifeline: 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636 or beyondblue.org.au.
Help us put a stop to customer abuse and violence, join the SDA today.