Supermarkets call for calm after staff member punched in face

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 3 Apr 2020, 4:34PM
Photo / File

Supermarkets call for calm after staff member punched in face

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 3 Apr 2020, 4:34PM

A woman has been charged with common assault after allegedly punching a supermarket manager in the face.

The situation between a shopper and a staff member escalated as shoppers lined up to enter the Warkworth store, National MP Mark Mitchell said.

"There was a flash point, a confrontation developed out of that and, as a result, the New World manager was assaulted and punched in the face," he said.

"Like I said, we have to show more tolerance, we have to be supportive of one another and encourage one another."

A police spokesman said the incident happened at Countdown Warkworth, not New World.
The incident occurred on Thursday, one week after the nationwide lockdown began.

The 45-year-old woman was arrested and is due to appear at North Shore District Court on May 14 to face a charge of common assault, he said.

Countdown health and safety general manager Kiri Hannifin said management were "extremely upset" to hear that another team member had been hurt.

"This is completely unacceptable. The level of abuse our team continues to face is incredibly concerning," she said.

"Our team has done a fantastic job over the past month meeting the unprecedented demand we have seen in our business, and now as they become part of New Zealand's essential workforce, they continue to deliver an outstanding service to communities across New Zealand.

"We appreciate that this is a time of huge uncertainty for all New Zealanders and that tensions are high, but taking frustration out on our teams who are working incredibly hard is unacceptable.

Staff were "putting absolutely everything they have int

o making sure Kiwis have the food and essentials they need to get through the lockdown - they deserve respect and kindness", Hannifin said.

Supermarket staff – essential workers – have faced abuse as they struggle to keep up with the overwhelming demand of restocking shelves.

Last weekend a Bay of Plenty supermarket worker was spat on after a confrontation with a customer who refused to abide by new Covid-19 restrictions.

A butchery worker was spat on after the customer refused to stand behind the line at the butchery counter at Whakatāne's Pak'n Save.

Some shoppers have continued to hoard essential items and strip shelves, despite repeated reassurances from the Prime Minister and supermarket chains that there is enough food.

A checkout staff member told Checkpoint, racial abuse, and in some cases violence workers face on the front line.

"I've had a few bad experiences since Covid-19 came to New Zealand," the checkout supervisor, who didn't want o be named, said.

"We've had people throwing things at us, spitting at us, swearing at us, putting us down, calling us names, being racist to us as well.

"I had a male come in… he threw a basket at me because there was nothing on the shelf.
"He said to me 'why the f*** haven't you got stock on the shelf, you should have the stock on the shelf.'

"And I went home crying that day.

The supermarket checkout supervisor said seeing staff members crying was a daily occurrence - for many different reasons, but mostly from being abused.

She said there were good customers who are made good comments, but attacks and other bad behaviour had increased.

 Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website