Retail re-opening – a decision for the entire community, not individual retailers

April 16, 2020 Media Releases

Media statement | 16 April 2020

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

It is understandable that retailers should be keen to re-open their businesses as soon as it is safe to do so.

But this is a decision for the entire community, led by government on the advice of the health experts, not just the retailers.

The health of the community as a whole and the health and safety of retail workers must be the primary concern.

The SDA has been engaged with retailers since February, striving to ensure the health and safety of employees and shoppers as supermarkets, fast food outlets, service stations and pharmacies provide essential services to ensure the community can put food on the table, put fuel in their vehicles and get the medicines they need.

The union has been pressing retailers to adopt its ten point health and safety program in line with recommendations from health experts, state and federal (see below). Some retailers have been receptive, instituting additional measures in line with the program. Others have not.

The SDA has repeatedly reached out to its members and responded to their concerns by engaging with their employers.

Some have acted on these concerns; others have not.

SDA members are rightly concerned about their health and safety as they provide essential services to the community. The union urges members to get in touch with their SDA representatives if they have any fears, as indeed many have.

Retail outlets should not re-open unless and until they are prepared to adopt the ten point plan and are able to do so.

This is not a decision for business, it is a decision for the community.

Government must consult their Health Authorities, the industry union and business before any wind-back of current restrictions.

We are all stakeholders in this crisis and the health and safety of workers, consumers and the community must be the primary consideration.

Contact: Jim Middleton

SDA Ten Point Health and Safety Program

  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 sanitiser 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 sanitisation 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 Deserves A Serve campaign to improve customer behaviour