Australian supermarket staff attacked in free bag ban anger

04 Juillet, 2018, 15:57 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • File Australian supermarket staff have suffered abuse as grocery chains struggled to impose a ban on single-use plastic bags

Australian supermarkets Coles and Woolworths also announced they would ban single-use shopping bags across the nation.

Ben Harris, who is Western Australia assistant secretary at the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees" Association (SDA), said: "He came up behind her and put his hands around her throat.

The reason both Kmart and Target can stick with plastic bags is because the legislation differs from state to state and single-use plastic bags have already been banned in ACT, Tasmania, South Australia and the Northern Territory.

To cut down on waste from single-use plastic bags, some of Australia's largest retailers are banning them.

However, a backlash has led Woolworths to offer customers free reusable bags until July 8. Retailers in four of six Australian states now face fines for using them.

"That's why from now until Sunday, July 8, if customers forget their reusable bags, we'll have complimentary reusable bags available for their shopping at Woolworths". Coles, IGA and Woolworths owned department store Big W followed suit on July 1.

But the most populous states, New South Wales and Victoria - where more than half the Australian population live - have resisted change.

Single-use plastic shopping bags are now not allowed to be handed out in Queensland, Australia.

A retail staff union urged customers to treat staff members with respect.

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"While we understand that some customers may be frustrated by this change, there is absolutely no excuse for abusive or violent behaviour towards retail staff", SDA National Secretary Gerard Dwyer said in a statement.

As well as complaints about the cost of bags, the union said customers are pressuring staff to overload the reusable bags so fewer are required and to handle unhygienic bags that customers have brought with them, including ones that contained vomit, dirty diapers and rat feces.

"This is obviously unacceptable and presents a serious health risk to retail staff".

Queensland Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch predicted that customers taking their own bags to supermarkets would soon become second nature.

"We know that about 75 per cent of all debris that we find along the coastline is plastic waste", she said.

Around 40 have banned single-use plastic bags, with charges or outright prohibitions in place in China, Bangladesh. and about 15 African countries.

But a ban isn't actually due to come into force in Victoria until the end of the year.

"That's why we have advocated for a ban because, ultimately, retailers still have the freedom to pick and choose when it comes to plastic bags", she told news.com.au.

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