Australia’s fast food and retail workers have told of being “slapped”, “spat on”, “yelled at” and abused by customers. Now they’ve had enough.
A new campaign has been launched to help stop customer rage and violence towards these workers during the Christmas period.
Launched by the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA), the ‘No One Deserves a Serve’ campaign comes after a new survey of 6,000 retail and fast food workers found that more than 85 per cent had experienced abuse from customers.
The campaign includes television, radio, digital and outdoor advertising.
SDA National Secretary Gerard Dwyer said 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,” he 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.”
Lawrence, a retail worker in Western Sydney 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 Dwyer said that while retail and fast food workers were trained to provide good customer service, they weren’t prepared for 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,” he said.
“This Christmas we’re calling on customers to check their behaviour before they get to the checkout.”
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.