Woolworths, contrary to its recent promise of rolling out reforms to its practices, is being accused of pressuring staff to encourage pokies players to gamble more.
A former gambling attendant for Wooloworths in Australia, revealed this to a Fairfax Media publication, said they do this to meet revenue targets.
The former staffer, Emma Pearson, who worked at the Colyton Hotel, owned by ALH, a subsidiary of Woolworths, said the company on July 2, 2018, rolled out an internal mechanism called “Walk the Floor”, which ran for six weeks.
During this period, staff are moved to any of the 323 pubs in the ALH group, to rate them on how quick they offer gamblers food and drink and even check whether the gambling room is of the right temperature.
Ms Pearson indicated that these services are rendered to coincide with the tax return period and that the food and drinks are greatly improved and staff levels increased in their bid to improve revenue.
Some staff at Woolworths were recently indicted for recording and sharing personal information of high-spending punters to encourage them to gamble more. AHL later confirmed the claims, adding that the perpetrators have been sacked and that they were ready to enforce responsible gambling practices.
However, Emma said the system was put in place to allow ALH to monitor the spending and activities of gamblers.
Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie, who is one of the toughest anti-pokies campaigners in Australia, was displeased about the company targeting gamblers the way they did, most of them coming from a lower socio-economic background.
“It is the only time of the year they can expect to have a lump sum of cash,” he said.
He added that the company allowing staff to oversee the performance of others can only breed a toxic work environment.
However, a spokesperson for Woolworth termed Ms Pearson as a peeved former employee who left her job over a rostering issue. He explained that the company’s Walk the Floor competition is aimed at improving customer service and is an all year effort.
A Fairfax Media obtained a Walk the Floor questionnaire which showed it was mainly targeted towards pubs’ gambling operations. Floor managers who did not know their daily and weekly gambling turnover targets and how to track them were marked down.
Footage of a staff meeting recorded by Ms Pearson and aired by Seven News on Monday showed, an ALH operations manager telling them to come on board or else he can’t help them since the industry was transforming.
Add tist“I can tell you that the last four months the profit of this hotel has been down 30 to 40 grand per month on last year,” he told the staff.