‘No One Deserves a Serve’ – SDA launches major national campaign to stop abuse of retail and fast food workers this Christmas
The SDA, the union for workers in retail, fast food and warehousing has launched a major national campaign ‘No One Deserves a Serve’ to stop the abuse and violence towards retail and fast food workers by customers this Christmas.
The massive campaign includes television, radio, digital and outdoor advertising and responds to SDA research involving 6,000 retail and fast food workers which found that over 85% of them had experienced abuse from customers at work.
SDA Assistant Secretary Josh Peak said when the shops are extremely busy this time of year, there is no excuse for the increasing amount of physical and verbal abuse that customers are directing at retail and fast food staff.
“Imagine going to work every day knowing you will probably be abused. That’s the reality for thousands of Australian retail and fast food workers and it’s completely unacceptable, not just at Christmas but all year round.”
“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.”
“For retail and fast food workers this abuse can severely impact their physical and psychological health and it cannot continue. Everyone has the right to be able to do their job in a safe environment.”
Lawrence, a retail worker, said customer abuse was a common experience for him.
“I’ve had people say things like ‘’I’ll meet you out the front’ threatening to fight me. One customer became angry at me and said, I do MMA (mixed martial arts), I could bash you up.”
“I’ve witnessed a colleague get pulled over the counter by an angry customer.”
“Customers get more and more angry as it gets closer to Christmas. Just a couple of weeks ago I had a customer become extremely irate at me, because we had sold out of the item he wanted. He was blaming me and yelling that it was my fault.”
Mr Peak said that while retail and fast food workers were trained to provide good customer service, this did not extend to tolerating verbal or physical abuse.
“The fact is, the customer is not always right. Abusing retail and fast food workers is wrong. No-one deserves a serve while they are just trying to do their job.”
“This Christmas we’re calling on customers to check their behaviour before they get to the checkout.”
“In addition to this major public awareness campaign to change public attitudes and behaviour, the SDA is looking drive industry changes to ensure that customers can’t continue this behaviour and build better protections for retail and fast food workers.”
The SDA will be holding a national industry round-table in March 2018 to progress the issue and to develop practical workplace solutions to protect workers.
Real stories from retail and fast food workers.
- “Other workers have been slapped in the face, one grocery manager was grabbed by the throat and choked against a wall. We get yelled at and abused all the time.”
- “Sometimes just rude people. Screaming/yelling, swearing, hands being thrown around, invading personal space, provocative behaviour, when in an even more vulnerable position such as door greeter. I’ve been a victim of serious abuse and threatening behaviour where things were thrown at me and security/management had to become involved.”
- “I have had customers throw products at me for simple things, such as a product is out of stock. I’ve had my face spat in, slapped across the face and had one person throw a punch at me and miss (I dodged it). It becomes second nature to know how to defend yourself, even when you’re just selling groceries and providing an everyday service.”
- “Once a team member was held up with a syringe.”
- “The customers swear at you when they don’t get their way.”
- “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. I’ve had a young male rush to punch me in the face after I refused to sell alcohol to him and his friends. I’ve had a group of young boys harass customers, staff and myself by throwing rotten fruit at us. I’ve been spat on during a theft incident. I’ve had people threaten to harm me and my staff after we’ve refused service due to intoxication.”
- “Bottom grabbed, held against multiple different people by the waist, my chest leered at and touched, followed around the store.”
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SDA Survey Results
From December 2016 to February 2017 the SDA conducted an online survey about abuse and violence experienced by retail and fast food workers at work.
Over 6,000 retail and fast food workers responded to our online survey.
Key facts from the survey:
- Over 85% of respondents have been subjected to verbal abuse from a customer in the last 12 months.
- 24% of respondents subjected to verbal abuse say it happens every week.
- 34% of respondents said they had felt threatened by a customer 1-2 times in the last 12 months.
- 14% of respondents have experienced physical violence from a customer.
- 12% of respondents said the incidents of customer abuse or violence involved behaviour by a customer that was sexual in nature.
- 62% of respondents said customer abuse was generally perpetrated by both male and female customers.
- 65% of respondents work on cashier/front end/service/registers.
- 74% of respondents are female.
- 64% of respondents said they had not received any training in the last 12 months on how to deal with threatening situations that includes abusive or violent customers.
- 51% of respondents said no action was taken after they reported an incident.