Supermarket staff fear for safety as security removed despite assaults

“She was saying she was going to make me lose my job and that I was beneath her, she was belittling me … there was no security guard there at the time. There’s no one there stopping that sort of behaviour.”

Sarah Cleary, 20, said the lack of protection at the store made her feel uncomfortable at work.

“I have been there when customers start abusing me if I don’t do something right,” she said. “I have heard people threaten to stab my supervisor and I feel really unsafe when that is happening.”

Retail and Fast Food Workers Union secretary Josh Cullinan has accused the supermarket giant of putting profits ahead of the safety of its workers.

“We’re outraged, we’re shocked, we’re disgusted that Woolworths haven’t taken [this] seriously,” Mr Cullinan said.

“The incidents are at the most serious end of assaults —  threats with weapons — let alone daily abuse …

“What [the company] would save on decreasing theft doesn’t equate to a security guard wage, that’s as simple as it is for Woolworths.”

However, Woolworths said it had taken strong action in response to incidents at the Moorabbin store.

“We have found very few instances of poor customer behaviour at our Moorabbin store in the past year. In the rare cases we have seen poor behaviour we have taken strong action in response, including banning a customer from the store,” a Woolworths spokesman said.

However, employees said they still believed a security guard was needed given the severity of recent incidents.

Store supervisor Loukas Kakogiannis said a petition for a permanent security guard  at the Moorabbin store had the support of more than 50 employees.

“There are people who are very scared to be at work,” he said. “A lot of people work by themselves late at night, in the deli, liquor and service area.

“A lot of them are young women and some of us only feel comfortable when our closest friends are working with us.

“A lot of people including myself are anxious being at work when we know that a lot of people in the area are dangerous, who repeatedly come back to the store and we’re the ones responsible for the safety of each other.”

The union has organised a protest for the afternoon of Saturday, August 25.

It has called on members of the community to support workers at the store and has askedWoolworths to immediately reinstate security there.

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