Retail workers union Usdaw has called for specialist conflict training for staff to help them deal with customers’ rage at supermarket self-service checkouts.
The growing increase in the number of self-service checkouts has led to greater levels of abuse against staff from frustrated shoppers.
Doug Russell, health and safety officer at Usdaw, has now urged supermarkets to give workers specialist training to combat the new phenonemon as customers struggle with the new tills and resent having to wait to get help from staff.
He called for across-the-board conflict management training for staff, whether they were full-time, part-time or seasonal.
Mr Russell said the problems got worse when there weren’t enough staff to deal with queries such as ‘unidentified item in the bagging area’ and restricted sales for alcohol.
”There should be one person responsible for each bank of four tills but even then there should be somebody else on standby if, for example, a partially sighted customer comes along and can’t work the till,” he said.
”If retailers are going to give customers a choice then they have to have the staff to step in when needed.”
He said adequate staffing levels would ”take much of the tension out” of situations where a customer becomes irate.
But he warned: ”If managers try to cut back on costs by having one person in charge of a bank of eight tills then obviously that’s going to up the level of frustration and anger.”
He said employers had the right to bring in new technology and acknowledged abuse can occur at traditional tills too. But there was a counter to act as a barrier between staff and angry customers at traditional checkouts, he said.