Retail workers suffer from abuse.
Retail workers suffer from abuse. Renee Albrecht

Work is a nightmare for those in retail

IF THERE'S one thing that ramps up around Christmas time it's shopping and for those who work in the retail sector that can mean more abuse.

It's a fact that's sparked a major campaign from retail union the SDA.

The massive campaign includes television, radio, digital and outdoor advertising and responds to SDA research involving 6000 retail and fast food workers which found that more than 85% of them had experienced abuse from customers at work.

A quarter of those people said it happened to them on a weekly basis.

Even more concerning, 14 per cent of retail workers in the survey said they had been physically assaulted.

SDA Queensland secretary Chris Gazenbeek said while the shops are extremely busy this time of year, there was no excuse for the increasing amount of physical and verbal abuse that customers are directing at retail and fast food staff.

"Imagine going to work every day knowing you will probably be abused,” she said.

"That's the reality for thousands of Australian retail and fast food workers and it's completely unacceptable, not just at Christmas but all-year-round.

"For retail and fast food workers this abuse can severely impact their physical and psychological health and it cannot continue. Everyone has the right to be able to do their job in a safe environment.”

One Bundaberg woman, who has worked in retail for a decade, told the NewsMail she knew first-hand how tough it could be in the industry.

"I've been sworn at and grabbed by the shirt and been defamed on social media for misunderstandings - both unnecessary acts,” she said.

The worker said the Christmas period did make it harder.

"Holidays can definitely make it worse,” she said.

"The wait time is longer due to increase in customers.”

She said that while some customers were abusive, there were always those who were grateful and kind.

"I love seeing my regular customers - I've received cards and chocolates and flowers, kind words of feedback and a hug.”

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