Retail food workers want increased protection as abuse from customers surges amid coronavirus panic buying.
A Coles service worker in New South Wales described the situation in her store as “insane”.
Supermarket workers are calling for danger money and increased protection as abuse from customers surges amid coronavirus panic buying.
A Coles service worker in New South Wales described the situation in her store as "insane".
Yesterday alone, there were four instances of abuse in her store, she told 9news.com.au.
Since the outbreak, stories of groceries being thrown at workers servicing the checkouts, brawls, and physical altercations have become all too regular, according to the worker who asked to remain anonymous.
While she has had to deal with a number of customers angry about the purchasing limits on products like toilet paper and pasta, she said the younger members of her team are copping the worst of it.
"It's a big safety issue," she said.
Josh Cullinan, the Secretary of the Retail and Fast Food Workers Union, is calling for workers to be paid more, especially in light of their increasingly unpredictable occupational environment during the coronavirus pandemic.
"An element to that is danger money," Mr Cullinan said.
Danger money is essentially an extra payment for people working under dangerous conditions. Supermarket workers in other parts of the world hit by coronavirus are also demanding the additional payment, according to Mr Cullinan.
Supermarket workers currently receive minimum wage, amounting to a salary 15 per cent less than what is considered a living wage in Australia, Mr Cullinan said.
The NSW Coles worker said she would "love" to see danger money introduced.
"We're on the frontline of this," she said.
"We need to be paid a living wage."
The Retail and Fast Food Workers Union is also calling for the security guards who are now out of work due to the cancellations of mass events to be stationed in supermarkets.
"Coles and Woollies at the moment – we're being told it's bigger than Christmas," he said.
"They can afford it."
Police yesterday began patrols of a number of supermarkets across the country. While the Coles service worker 9news.com.au spoke to supported the move, she said it is simply not enough.https://twitter.com/EllenbrookPol/status/1240052233430941696
"We don't need them for a couple of hours – we need security full-time," she said.
Woolworths today told 9news.com.au it plans to provide full-time security guard coverage in every single store across the country, with the vast majority of stores to have security installed starting from tomorrow.
Coles did not comment on its plans regarding in-store security.
The SDA, another union for workers in retail, fast food and warehousing, is also pushing their campaign 'No One Deserves a Serve', sending out badges to members in the hopes of quelling the abuse and violence workers are experiencing.
A Woolworth's spokesperson said they are backing the campaign and committed to combatting the massive spike in incidents of abuse.
"We have the right to go to work and be safe," the NSW Coles service worker said.
"I don't come to work to be abused."
A Woolworths spokesperson issued 9news.com.au the below statement:
· "The safety of our team members is our priority and we do not tolerate aggressive or abusive behaviour towards them in any circumstance.
· Earlier today we advised our teams that we're moving to provide security guard coverage in every single store across the country.
· We're working closely with security contractors to ensure that coverage is in place as quickly as possible, with the vast majority of stores to be covered from tomorrow.
· Our teams are working tirelessly under difficult circumstances, so we ask all Australians to treat them with the courtesy and respect they deserve."
A Coles spokesperson issued 9news.com.au the below statement:
- "The safety of our customers and team members is our most important focus and we continue to work closely with the Department of Health to review our safety arrangements for store team members in line with their recommendations. Across all our stores, sites, distribution centres and Store Support Centre, Coles has taken a number of steps to ensure the safety and health of our team members. We have reinforced the importance of hygiene practices in line with government recommendations including installing additional hand sanitisers for all team members and increasing the frequency of cleaning of bathrooms, kitchens and communal areas.
- In our stores we have also increased cleaning, including in high traffic areas such the checkouts.
- We are also constantly reviewing the enhanced security measures we have deployed to date to manage the unprecedented levels of demand we are seeing in our stores.
- We are confident that the measures we have in place are adequately addressing known risks, and we will continue to review these and take advice from the Department of Health to ensure the safety of our customers and team members."
Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/coronavirus-supermarket-workers-unions-call-for-increased-protection-and-danger-money/b4c22083-32e7-4422-b97b-a2110182f068