Horrifying footage has emerged of the moment a Woolworths employee was brutally struck in the face with a metal scooter by an angry shopper, as the supermarket giant begs Australians to treat staff with respect in the lead-up to Christmas.
The retail heavyweight has this week released a series of CCTV clips revealing the shocking abuse shop assistants face at its supermarkets around the country, with vision showing employees being punched, kicked, assaulted and even spat on.
In one particularly vicious attack, a hooded figure is seen picking up a scooter near the self checkouts and hurling it across the store right into the face of a staffer, who recoils in shock. The offender then quickly flees on foot.
In a second incident, an employee can be seen invading a 'staff only' area, kicking and punching a worker who attempts to shield themself in defence. A third incident shows a heated altercation break out between a member of the public and a staff member at the checkouts, with a woman repeatedly punching the employee before a security officer intervenes.
Woolies CEO calls for respect toward staff across nation's stores
Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said that "unfortunately in the post COVID-era" a "significant rise" in aggressive behaviour has been reported across stores.
According to the retailer, since July, an average of 420 incidents per month have been reported throughout Woolworths supermarkets, Metro stores and BIG W outlets — representing a rise of 50 per cent compared with 2022 levels.
“I can’t stress enough that 99 per cent of our customers are amazing and always treat our team with respect, but unfortunately in the post COVID-era we’ve seen a significant rise in the number of people walking through our doors who act aggressively — and sometimes violently,” Banducci said.
'Worrying trend' skyrockets in a post-pandemic world
“In the past fortnight, we have had team members punched, spat on and other recent incidents including threats with a range of weapons from baseball bats, iron bars to knives. We are also seeing aggression and violence against our home delivery drivers with one driver recently pulled from his truck at gunpoint."
Banducci warned the "behaviour is unacceptable in our stores, across our delivery network or in any workplace" and as a result, Woolworths had invested in broader safety protocols for staff "to help tackle this extremely worrying trend".
“Christmas is just a couple of weeks away and we know that it can feel a little more stressful at this time of year. Stores will be busy, and our team is excited to help customers get ready to celebrate, all we ask is that they are treated with the respect they deserve," he said.
The abuse comes as Australia's big supermarkets report skyrocketing levels of theft, with increased security protocols rolled-out at retailers all over the nation.
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