A photo of a tearful worker from Woolworths has captured the grim reality for many store workers who are abused by customers angry with deficits caused by coronavirus-induced panic purchases and hoarding.
The photo shared on Facebook showed an exhausted employee in tears at the self-service checkouts after being treated horribly by rude customers, and summed up the fear the staff of Australian supermarkets felt.
Australian supermarket chains have all imposed rationing to curb the excessive buying of shelves.
The shortages and rationing had infuriated many customers expressing their anger at staff and other customers, with several instances of physical fights in the aisles fighting for scarce items.
A woman who shared the image demanded that customers receive a ‘reality check’.
A photo of a Woolworths employee bursting into tears has given a heartbreaking insight into the impact of panic purchases on grocery store workers amid coronavirus
“These poor workers are brought to tears because of how people treat them, blame them and abuse them for something they can’t control,” said one woman.
“It’s people, like the rest of us, who are trying to make a living and try to do the best work they can do for everyone right now.
“Before looking for someone to blame for all this chaos, you may want to think about the fact that these people are just trying to do their job and not have to be abused every 10 minutes just because Woolworths and Coles are out of stock.
“Be a decent person these days, you never know what someone’s been struggling with in your life and you’re abusing someone for not being able to buy three packs of pasta or some toilet paper.”
The shortage of products had spread across supermarkets, and Bunnings announced on Thursday that it was restricting sales of certain products.
Panic purchases also spread to bottle shops this week after pubs and clubs were closed to limit the spread of COVID-19 and drinkers feared that Dan Murphy’s and Liquorland would soon follow.
Other store employees responded to the crying employee’s photo with their own experiences of being treated roughly by customers.
Walked into Woolworths in my Kmart uniform and was called names because they didn’t have toilet paper. Even though I didn’t work at Woolworths, “said one woman.
A second said, “As a retailer for Dan Murphy’s, we are classified as” essential. ” We have not asked for this pandemic. We certainly haven’t asked for shitty customers who can’t buy their bottle of Gossips and Bowler’s Run. Certainly blessed to have another job. ‘
A third said, “This is terrible. These poor workers are just trying to do their best. They have no control over what’s going on. They are only there to get your items through so you can afford them. Please show extra kindness to all shop staff especially to those who are currently working in supermarkets. ‘
Another said: “I am sorry that these hardworking people are not respected. What is wrong with people, can they show respect for these people. Disgusting behavior. ‘
Leading supermarket chains have imposed strict rationing measures to curb ‘panic buying’ as they struggle to keep up with the rising demand of the past few weeks
Many supermarkets had introduced special shopping times for the elderly and disabled to give them an opportunity to buy goods amid long queues and aggressive behavior.
Some states have also relaxed the rules that allow grocery stores to work up to 24 hours a day to spread store taxes.
An employee working for the Woolworths supply chain responded to the photo of a troubled colleague praising the workers for being on the ‘front line’ during this difficult time.
“Huge appreciation for all employees, some of whom are 15 to 18, make tremendous efforts and engage in unspeakable behavior, you are the true embodiment of the ‘everyday hero,'” he said.
Another Woolworths employee said her store had barely opened its doors when she faced an unruly shopper.
“Half an hour a day and we already had to call the police and the police. Enough enough guys. Treat each other with respect. We’re just doing our job, ”she said.
Hundreds of customers thanked the supermarket staff for long working days to keep up with the high demand for essential items.
“I take my hat off the people who work for Woolies, Coles and Aldi. It would be damn hard right now. And it’s not the fault that stores are out of stock. They are all doing their best, “said one of them.
The coronavirus pandemic had killed 12 people in Australia, of which 2,675 had tested positive.
The federal and state government had ordered the closure of many stores, and even more drastic restrictions were considered likely, leaving only supermarkets, pharmacies, and convenience stores in operation.