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On the introduction of supermarket security checkpoints

Written by: Comrade Swanston on 3 April 2024


First introduced in mid-2023 to combat the rising number of incidents concerning shoplifting and what the talking-heads of the bourgeoisie have declared to be a sudden and unprovoked “rise in aggression” against their employees in Australian supermarkets, Coles’ and Woolworths’ anti-shoplifting programs demonstrate plainly the bloated and disconnected hubris of the bourgeoisie. 

These programs demonstrate a ruling class that is becoming more severed from the lived experiences of the working-class and working-poor with each passing day. It demonstrates a class with such little awareness of its conditions that it ignorantly believes that its own lies it tells to cheat us will simply be taken as fact: by both employee and customer alike. By those it exploits through undercutting wages, and by those it endlessly price gouges out of every dollar. 

Yet this lie that they repeat, this lie that they are introducing these means to protect some of Australia’s most vulnerable workers, is acknowledged by all those who toil day to day for what it is! As a sham! As a maliciously crafted excuse which has but one true purpose: to protect capital, From South Melbourne to Carrum Downs, from street to street this is acknowledged earnestly by all people. 

One emergency service worker recalled to me that Woolworth CEO Brad Banducci’s panopticon makes them feel as if “everyone is presumed to be a criminal”, and a young single mother told me that ever since those gates first came up in South Melbourne (along Clarendon Street) that she has only seen one thing change. That those “blackshirts” as she calls them, the corporate security of these shopping-centres, have only become ever more energised to brutalise and abuse those they deem “to look too poor” to shop. 

To hide behind excuses of fighting crime and to force people to come behind cameras and into that dreaded back room. To come into that back room and face the consequences of surviving and being able to live another day. This is the reality of these programs. This is the reality of the class conflict. 

Such measures such as the introduction of so called smart gates, of anti-theft fog and security databases, such measures such as the expansion of security teams and of the trolley-lock system only harm those within working-class suburbs. They do not even affect the wealthy and well-off, the bosses, nor the bureaucrat. 

This is even evident in where they place these measures. For what connects South Melbourne to Carrum Downs, what connects my own suburb to all the suburbs chosen for this program is that they are predominantly and historically working-class and host a large population who sit underneath the poverty line. A large population which relies on welfare payments and who reside in public housing. A large population who has long been exploited and shamed by the capitalist system and its supporters.

Like all things in the class conflict, this issue has not remained stagnant over the course of a few months. For it must be acknowledged that this attack has not been one that has been strictly led against consumers, but as ever has been expanded against these corporations’ hard-working employees. 

For as reported by several worker-representatives of the Retail and Fast-Food Worker Union, Coles has further expanded this campaign upon its own workers. That is, Coles now again will harass and coerce its employees alongside customers with their “blackshirts”, who will gleefully collaborate and undoubtedly restrain their hardworking and underpaid retail-clerks for but a suspicion of theft. Likely with threats of reporting them to management if they do not comply. With threats of loss of job and livelihood! 

These scenes though will be ironic to those who know of Coles’ long history of blatant wage theft. For Coles and Woolworths: the happy hypocrites who cry ‘thief!’ as they rob their workers of their rightful wages have always with a crocodile’s smile attempted to cast blame on others. 

They would not dare admit that their employees are being unpaid and should have the ability to shop where they work! They would not admit that the statement from the Retail and Fast-Food Workers Union (RAFFWU) could be true. That as Josh Cullinan, Secretary of RAFFWU puts it, that “the reason they’re bag checking is because they know that their own workers are forced to think about stealing because they can’t afford food”. 

For these corporations and their bosses would rather sit lying between their teeth with yearly salaries so high (collected from all their robbery) that the average person could not achieve such in a lifetime.


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