Don't Bag Retail Staff

With the banning of single use plastic bags across Australia in the coming weeks the SDA, the union for retail workers, will launch a special ‘Don’t Bag Retail Staff’ campaign as part of their ongoing campaign to stop abusive behaviour towards retail workers.  

Nationwide, Woolworths will phase out single use plastic bags in their stores on 20 June with Coles to do the same on 1 July.

SDA National Secretary Gerard Dwyer said customers should be prepared for the new bag rules.

“We welcome this positive change for the environment and remind customers to bring their own reusable bag or simply purchase one at the checkout.”

“While we understand that some customers may be frustrated by this change, there is no excuse for abusive or violent behaviour towards retail staff.”

Mr Dwyer said the union will be reminding retail staff about their rights, including not overloading bags at the customer’s request and not handling extremely dirty or unhygienic bags.

“This will be a change for retail staff, but they should always follow safe work practices and report any abusive or violent behaviour from customers about the changes to their supervisor.”

“Retail workers should not have to bear the brunt of any abusive behaviour, just for following the new rules.”

SDA research involving 6,000 retail and fast food workers last year found that more than 85% had experienced abuse from customers at work.

“Please be prepared, and please, don’t bag retail staff.

“After all, no one deserves a serve simply for doing their job.”

Radio ads will air from Monday 11 June and online ads reminding customers to prepare for the single-use plastic bags ban in VIC, NSW, QLD and WA will go live in mid-June.


Key Dates

20 June 2018 – Woolworths ban on single use plastic bags Australia-wide

1 July 2018 – Coles ban single use plastic bags Australia-wide


Key rights for retail workers

The phasing out of single use plastic bags is a major change for many workers in retail but remember to follow safe work practices at all times.

Here’s what you need to know:

Heavy bags

  • Don’t overload bags or lift heavy bags if it is unsafe to do so.
  • If a customer wants more in the bag, they can pack the extra items themselves or lift their own bag into the trolley.

Dirty and unhygienic bags

  • You have the right to refuse to handle a reusable bag if it is extremely dirty and unhygienic.
  • Packing a reusable bag shouldn’t be a health risk to you.

Abusive or violent behaviour from customers

  • You should not have to tolerate any abusive or violent customer behaviour about changes to the bag rules.
  • You have the right to a safe work environment and customers should not take out their frustrations about paying for a reusable bag on staff.
  • Report any incidents of customer abuse or violence to your supervisor.