Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci has expressed frustration over the increasing aggression towards their staff, highlighting alarming incidents where employees faced axe attacks and gun threats. The company has seen a staggering 50% increase in such incidents compared to last year.
On average, Woolworths Group, which includes supermarkets, metro stores, and Big W stores, experiences about 420 assaults monthly. Brad Banducci emphasised that retail worker abuse and violence have become widespread, with severe cases like stabbings and bashings.
Woolworths is implementing various safety measures to combat this rising trend, especially during the peak shopping season. These include enhanced resilience and de-escalation training, virtual reality simulations for handling aggression, and a significant $40 million investment in CCTV upgrades throughout its Australian stores.
Mr Banducci shared distressing examples of recent attacks, including staff being punched and spat on and a delivery driver being forcibly removed from his truck at gunpoint. He stressed that such behaviour is intolerable in any work environment and necessitates continued investment in employee safety.
As the festive season approaches, Mr. Banducci urges customers to treat retail workers with respect and courtesy. Woolworths has launched an in-store campaign featuring radio announcements and posters to reinforce this message.
Bernie Smith, the NSW Secretary of the SDA – the union for retail workers, has endorsed this call for respect, stating that there is no justification for such aggressive behaviour towards staff members who are there to assist.