Woolworths reveals drastic plan to protect threatened staff

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·News Reporter
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Woolworths is trialling new body cameras for staff to protect them from abuse.

Woolworths director of stores Rob Moffat told Yahoo News Australia in a statement the cameras will be rolled out “to see if they can help prevent assaults and abuse of our team members”.

“This follows a doubling in reports of assaults in our stores in 2020,” Mr Moffat said.

“Nobody deserves to be abused at work, so it’s important we look at new measures to help keep our team members safe. These cameras are used widely in retail across the US and UK and have been effective in reducing the rate of reported incidents.

“The cameras will only be turned on as a last resort if a supervisor is concerned about a threat to team safety.”

Woolworths staff member Jasmine Sakoua is pictured wearing a body camera at the Rosehill store.
Woolworths Rosehill staff member Jasmine Sakoua wears a body cam while on shift. Source: Dallas Kilponen via Woolworths

The cameras will not record audio and will only be turned on by a trained supervisor if they believe the camera is needed. The footage will only be made available to the supermarket’s legal teams and to police when appropriate.

Any stores trialling the cameras will have signage informing shoppers, including Rundle Mall in Adelaide, St Albans in Melbourne, the Berala Woolies in Sydney's west and Redbank Plains in South East Queensland.

A general view is seen of Woolworths in Avalon in Sydney, Australia.
Woolworths in Avalon, Sydney, in December. Source: Getty Images

Toll of abuse, panic buying on supermarket staff

The coronavirus pandemic, which led to widespread lockdowns across Australia and supermarkets having to enforce product limits, has seen supermarket employees cop ongoing abuse.

People were filmed brawling over toilet paper, which there was a shortage of last year.

One Woolies employee in Victoria wrote of her stress and anxiety brought on by chaotic shoppers panic buying items.

She wrote her heart “was absolutely pounding” on having to bring out pallets of toilet paper while a male colleague had hands “shaking”.

“People don’t understand how far down the line this goes but we have been genuinely working so hard to get through this,” she told Yahoo News Australia last year.

A report by the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association found 85 per cent of Woolworths staff members suffered a form of abuse in the past 12 months including verbal, physical and sexual.

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