The research suggests that the abuse was worst in areas of southwestern Sydney, such as Campbelltown, which had the country’s strictest lockdown laws, putting enormous pressure on communities.
Stalking, harassment and intimidation at stores and wholesalers rose 24 percent in Fairfield, 44 percent in the CBD and up to 78 percent in Campbelltown, according to the data.
Bernie Smith, NSW secretary of the SDA, the union for retail, fast food and warehouse workers, said the new numbers were alarming.
“These increases are as alarming as they are predictable, especially as stores prepare to reopen and face a rapid influx of shoppers,” Smith said.
“As the retail industry gears up for a burst of pent-up activity heading into the holiday season, these numbers show that store associates have genuine reason to fear that ‘vaccine passports’ and QR codes could be a flashpoint for customer abuse when retail reopens.
“The SDA is now engaged in ongoing discussions with the government about the need for enhanced protections for store employees, including specific provisions in public health decrees and in legislation for increased penalties for threatening, abusing, intimidating or assaulting store employees.”
Mr Smith said it is not the retailer’s responsibility to employees to ensure compliance with public health regulations and warned that staff will face major challenges in the coming weeks after the state opens.
“It is not the responsibility of store staff as restrictions are lifted to enforce compliance with government regulations and requirements by shoppers,” he said.
“Enforcement is the responsibility of the government that has imposed on them and employers.
“As the economy opens up and we move towards Christmas shopping, we must respect and protect these essential store employees.
“Nobody deserves a service.”