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Congratulations NSW on spitting fines – time for the other state governments to act

Media statement | 19 April 2020

Statement from Gerard Dwyer, National Secretary the SDA – the union for retail, fast food and warehouse workers

The decision by the NSW government to extend its $5,000 fine for spitting and coughing to retail workers highlights the urgency of the other state and territory governments following suit.

While the most prominent examples of this dangerous practice may have emerged in NSW, there have been similar instances in other states.

As NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard points out, workers in supermarkets are “every bit as essential as any other worker.”

Retail workers matter – they are keeping you fed. They are somebody’s son, somebody’s daughter, somebody’s mum, somebody’s dad and they deserve respect.

The other state governments must act now if the health of retail workers nation-wide is to be protected for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency.

They are putting themselves at risk so that the rest of the community can put food on the table.

These disgusting incidents also highlight the urgency of other retailers following COSTCO’s lead and act on the SDA’s call for an “Essential Service Payment” of $5 per hour for all frontline workers – including those at supermarkets, pharmacies, petrol stations and convenience stores – who are risking their health to serve the community.

It is also time for those retailers who have not adopted the SDA’s 10 point health and safety program for retail workers in its entirety to do so immediately:

  1. Go ‘cash free’ and accept card payments only.
  2. Install plexiglass screens at cash registers to protect workers who cannot keep at least 1.5 metres from customers.
  3. Ensure social distancing measures are in place and are enforced, including signage, floor markings, register use and customer volumes.
  4. Ensure hand sanitizer approved by the Health Department is readily available to all staff (current standards require at least 60% alcohol).
  5. Provide workers with gloves and personal face shields where requested.
  6. Provide bags free of charge for each purchase to avoid handling of customer bags. No use of customers’ used bags unless the customer bags it themselves.
  7. Continue to increase security to assist in enforcing social distancing, customer volumes, purchase limits, access limits and in dealing with unreasonable customers. Police resources may also need to be deployed to protect workers.
  8. Ensure regular cleaning and sanitization of workstations and personal protective equipment.
  9. Take a zero-tolerance approach to customer violence and abuse.
  10. Publicly promote the SDA’s No One Deserve A Serve campaign to improve customer behaviour.