One in five retail workers have been coughed or spat on since the COVID-19 outbreak began, with the retail association reminding Australians to quit the abusive behaviour.
The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA Union) on Friday issued a stern reminder of $5,000 fines for abusive customers, following reports of a customer spitting on another at a Bunnings store.
“The $5,000 fine for spitting or coughing at retail workers is a clear signal that abuse and violence towards retail workers will not be tolerated,” SDA NSW/ACT secretary Bernie Smith said.
“One in four retail employees copped verbal abuse every week last year, while one in five were coughed or spat on by a customer, according to the SDA’s survey of retail abuse in 2020. This is vile at any time but unforgivable during a pandemic.
“No one deserves a lack of respect or the risk of being exposed to the dangerous Delta variant just for doing their essential job.”
Dean said retail workers have put themselves in harm’s way to allow the community access to essential goods and services, but have been “abused and attacked” on the job in exchange.
“There has to be zero tolerance for this sort of behaviour being directed at the wonderful workers who have been keeping our community going during the COVID-19 crisis,” Dean said.
“The unfolding covid situation in NSW can be stressful but we want to remind people that there is never any excuse for being abusive towards retail and fast food workers who are doing the best they can under the circumstances. Police will be called and people will be charged.”
It comes as large swathes of NSW enter stricter lockdown requirements from Friday.
As of 5 pm, only one person per household will be allowed to go shopping per day, with Premier Gladys Berejiklian calling for residents to avoid all unnecessary movement.
She said people shouldn’t be leaving the house to “browse” at the shops, warning that the state was facing its biggest challenge since the virus first arrived on Australian shores.