The SDA – the union for workers in retail and fast food is calling on the public to treat fast workers with respect during the busy Christmas period as part of its ongoing ‘No One Deserves A Serve’ campaign, which launches a new advertising blitz this week.
The campaign comes after a recent survey of over 1,000 fast food workers found a staggering 87% of them had experienced verbal abuse or aggressive behaviour. Fast food workers have received death threats, threats of rape and had items such as cigarettes and hot coffee thrown at them.
Michael Donovan said the union was appalled by the reports.
“Abusive and violent customer behaviour is a serious workplace health and safety issue that impacts the mental and physical health of fast food workers.”
“It’s clear that on a daily basis, fast food workers are being subjected to constant verbal abuse, threats of violence and in some cases, actual physical assault.”
“Our message to the public is that this behaviour has got to stop. Copping abuse is not part of the job. No one deserves a serve.”
The SDA’s research found that 41% of the respondents to the survey were 17 years old or under and 71% were women.
“When we talk about the abuse of fast food workers, we’re actually talking about the abuse of teenage girls.”
“The behaviour they have reported is absolutely unacceptable and it’s time for it to stop.
“This behaviour would never be tolerated in schools, why is it okay for young Australian workers to be abused at work?”
Fast food worker Katrina said that unfortunately, customer abuse was part of her job.
“Just the other day a mother with a 3-year-old child screamed at me because the milk shake machine was broken, blaming me for making her son cry.”
“At my restaurant a 16-year-old girl grabbed a staff member in a head lock and smashed a chicken burger into their face because it was cold.”
“Customers have even picked up and thrown stools at staff members over the smallest things, it’s gotten completely out of control” she said.
Michael Donovan said launching the new fast food ‘No One Deserves a Serve’ national campaign in the busy Christmas period was focused on changing public behaviour toward fast food and retail workers.
“Abusive behaviour toward fast food workers is never acceptable.”
“We acknowledge that Christmas can be a busy and stressful time for many people, but that does not excuse rude, offensive and disrespectful behaviour toward fast food and retail staff.”
“We also call on employers to act urgently to take a zero-tolerance approach to this behaviour and support workers when incidents occur.
“Employers must step up and do more to protect workers and mitigate risks in their workplaces.”
The nation-wide blitz will include online, television and radio ads, and advertising on buses and billboards in certain states.
Since December 2017, the SDA has been publicly campaigning on the issue of customer abuse and in March 2018 held a national industry roundtable bringing together employers, employer groups and relevant government agencies on how to tackle the issue and better protect workers.