Anyone who has worked in the hospitality industry knows what it’s like to have to deal with a crappy customer. But add the extra spice of a referendum in to the mix, and you’ve got yourself a situation that will mass-produce resignation letters and on-shift menty breakdowns like nobody’s business.
Surprise surprise, it’s already happening! At only three weeks into the campaign, workers across the country have reported an increase in the amount of Karens and Darrens having a dig at retail workers whose places of business are showing support for the Vote Yes campaign.
It’s gotten to the point where the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has decided to step in and urge customers to keep themselves from having adult-tantrums at people who 1) are just trying to pay their rent, and 2) don’t even have a say in the opinion of the company they work for anyway.
A spokesperson from the ARA said that the referendum, “has added a new dimension to customer aggression and anti-social behaviour in the retail environment, exacerbating concerns about the mental and emotional well-being of some frontline retail workers”.
It shouldn’t be divisive to say that this behaviour from grown-ass adults is utter dipshittery, however there’s a lot of things around right now that shouldn’t be divisive yet are because one group of spuds disagree. Not saying names OFC.
Chief of the Australian Retailers Association, Paul Zahra, even made a statement: “We understand there are different views in the community about the Voice and the referendum.”
“Sadly, some consumers have taken retail workers to task about the position held by their employers, which is completely unacceptable.”
In response to this unacceptable behaviour, the ARA have begun a campaign to inform retail workers and their employers across the country how to properly engage in discussions on the referendum, providing resources and even a history on the context of the vote to answer any curveballs from agitated customers.
In an interview with Tony Jones on 3AW, Zahra stated that, “There are many small businesses particularly that are displaying the ‘Yes’ campaign in their windows and they’re particularly getting targeted, and that’s impacting on the mental health of the individuals that work in those stores.” Which naturally the conservative radio station pinned on the employers for “citing unrest” and “asking for trouble” for stating their view.
Honestly, massive kudos to any of the retail workers out there doing it tough during this campaign. The nature of this referendum means that regular retail stores are much more willing to get involved to help inform their community- which is a great thing!
But it’s not like a standard federal election. You would never see a national retail chain express which political party they were voting for. And this difference has created an obstacle that unfortunately the lowly retail worker has been the unwarranted victim for.
However, the Australian Retail Association believe that the way we stop this poor treatment of workers is through education and kindness. Fascinatingly, they didn’t suggest equipping all workers with body-cams to stop abuse, so wherever Coles got that bright idea from remains a mystery.