Retail theft: your job is to stay safe

Retail theft was one of the recurring themes at our Loblaw Member Forums in March. Here’s guidance from your Union Reps on how to address your concerns and ensure you are safe.

Retail theft is rising in our workplaces and with that comes an increased level of violence. Many stores have experienced violence or assault either on workers, loss-prevention officers or customers. Unfortunately, this has gotten all too common and leaves workers wondering what they can do. 

And as controversial as it may sound, the answer is to do nothing. Shoplifting is your employer’s issue to address, not yours. When you see someone shoplifting, the safety policy is for you to not engage in any way. Ignoring theft protects you from outbursts and removes you from the issue. Avoiding confrontation means that potential anger won’t be directed towards you. This is your best defense against shoplifters and unruly customers. 

Preventing and reducing theft is your employer’s job and you can be punished for taking it into your own hands. It’s not your store, no one is stealing from you and it’s not your job. Your job is to stay safe.

As a Union, we hear from members about theft every day and they want to see more action from their employer or on-site security to stop brazen thefts. Members see repeat thieves visit their stores multiple times in one day with little to no consequences. We know that’s discouraging but it’s important to note that you can still take action to create a safer work environment without taking direct action against shoplifting. 

Though workplace safety rests primarily in your employer’s lap, we’re here to work with them and provide input to create a safe workplace. If you have concerns about safety, speak to:

  • Your shop steward or a member of your health and safety committee – they know your CBA and the policies in place and can help you find answers.
  • Your union representative – just like your workplace activists, they know your CBA and are familiar with grievances the union has filed at your workplace or other locations. If needed, they can help you file a grievance so that your company is pushed to follow policies as written and can work with your activists to make recommendations to the company to improve safety. 

As offensive as it can be to see this problem over and over without an end in site,  remember that theft is a choice. With inflation and the rising cost of groceries, people that may have already been struggling are now failing to make ends meet. Though there are many reasons why people steal, it’s important to acknowledge that times are tough and many people are being forced to make difficult decisions in order to provide for themselves and their families.