NSW takes action on coughing and spitting fines – its now time for the Queensland government to act

April 20, 2020 Media Releases

Media statement | 20 April 2020

NSW takes action on coughing and spitting fines – its now time for the Queensland government to act

The NSW Government yesterday announced its ability to fine, and even jail, people found intentionally spitting or coughing on workers would be extended from public officials such as police and healthcare workers to include all 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 need for the Queensland government and other states to be following suit.

SDA, the union for retail, fast-food and warehouse workers, Qld State Secretary, Chris Gazenbeek said retail and fast food workers have borne the brunt of a huge upsurge in customer abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our retail workers, including those working in our supermarkets, have been incredible throughout the coronavirus pandemic, putting themselves in harm’s way in order to ensure the community has access to the essential goods and services we need, but unfortunately they’re being regularly abused and attacked on the job,” Chris Gazenbeek said.

“There has to be zero tolerance for this sort of behaviour being directed at the fantastic workers who have been keeping our community going during the COVID-19 crisis, whether it’s retail workers, health workers, police, public transport workers or any other worker.

“It’s disturbing that we’d need a law that stops this kind of disgraceful behaviour, but unfortunately we do.

“Our members have been reporting a huge upsurge in the number of attacks on workers lately. The reports of supermarket and other retail workers being coughed and spat on over the past weeks are becoming disturbingly common.

“These are our neighbours stocking our shelves and manning our cash registers. They are also your friends’ sons and daughters, and your colleagues’ partner or parent.  Sometimes we’ve all just got to step back and remember that we’re all in this together.”

“The SDA has been working hard to ensure that everything possible is being done to protect our frontline workers – from making sure social distancing guidelines are being adhered through to pushing for card only payments and and ensuring workers have access to hand sanitisers and other personal protective equipment.

We now call on the Queensland government to implement these laws to help further protect our workers during these difficult times.”

Media contact: Rose Bailey, rose.bailey@sdaq.asn.au, 0418781524