Media Release: 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 National Secretary Gerard Dwyer 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,” Mr Dwyer said

“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.”

Jannette, a retail worker in Newcastle said she regularly witnessed customer abuse.

“Up until I started working in retail I’ve never been verbally abused before and I’d never been hit by anyone before,” said Jannette, “We’re only trying to do our job. You don’t come to work to put up with abuse. That’s not on. I don’t think people realise how demoralising it is for staff”.

“One Easter I was doing night-fill in the dairy aisle and a lady pushed me out of the way with her basket then punched me in the face and bruised me. I was stunned.

“We once had a young teenage girl in our store demanding cigarettes. Our service supervisor refused to serve her so she jumped the counter and shoved the supervisor out of the way and grabbed the cigarettes. The supervisor had a couple of bruises from it,” Jannette said.

Mr Dwyer 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 roundtable in March 2018 to progress the issue and to develop practical workplace solutions to protect workers.

Media contact: Darren Rodrigo 0414 783 405

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