Sunday, May 26, 2024

WA retailers call for action to stop assaults

The Western Australian retail and fast-food industry is calling for the local government to legislate higher maximum penalties for assaults on workers.

As a call of action, the SDA Union along with major employers and industry associations have presented the Western Australian government with petitions containing around 9500 signatures.

“Action has been taken in the Northern Territory, South Australia, and NSW, with increased maximum criminal penalties already in place. But not yet in Western Australia,” reads a statement.

An SDA report released last week identified that the number of workers who have been assaulted at work increased by more than 56%.

Additionally, this data showed that only 48% of respondents said that they felt safe at work.

Overall, 87% of SDA members said they had experienced abuse from customers in the last year and 30% reported incidents occurring on a weekly basis. 12% of experiences involved physical violence, 9% had been spat on and 15% reported the abuse being sexual in nature.

“Tougher penalties are needed to address the increasing number of assaults in shops and will send a strong message to offenders,” says SDA WA Secretary Ben Harris.

“Our members are often young workers in their first job, or someone’s parent who is putting food on the table. All too frequently, they are subjected to abuse and violence at work, and we want strong legislative action to be taken to protect them.

“Covid-19 demonstrated what the Union has known for some time: the work our members do is essential.

“It’s crucial that these workers should feel safe when performing an essential service.”

The SDA’s campaign is supported by the Australian Retailers Association (ARA).

“All retail workers have a right to feel safe at work and the wellbeing of this vital workforce has a flow on effect to the wellbeing of many others in our community,” says ARA CEO Paul Zahra.

“Being asked to show your receipt doesn’t give you an excuse to crack someone over the head. That’s why we want to see tough laws in WA to better protect our retail workers and keep them safe.”

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