Dozens of supermarket staff suffer abuse as two major Australian grocery chains struggled to impose a ban on single-use plastic bags.

Australia’s biggest supermarket chains are scrambling to combat “bag rage” as frustrated shoppers vent their anger over the removal of single-use plastic bags.

One man put his hands around a supermarket worker’s throat, the West Australian newspaper reported, while grocery stores are putting on more staff to help customers get used to the change.

Woolsworth and Coles last year auctioned plans to voluntarily remove free lightweight plastic bags from their stores nationally and instead offer more environmentally friendly reusable bags for 15 Aus cents {11 US cents} each.

The Coles ban came into force last Sunday. Woolworth's  took effect on June 20, but the company was forced to delay the move by 10 days after customers complained, with staff bearing the brunt of their anger.

A survey by the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association   -the union that represents the  shop assistants  - showed that of  141 members employed by the two chains to respond so far, 61 have been subjected to abusive behavior.

It included a worker being assaulted by a customer after being told there were no free plastic bags at a store in Western Australia state.

Ä male customer in the  self-serve area swore loudly at a female worker," the union's  assistant secretary  Ben Harris  told  AFP on Monday.

"She provided him with some complimentary bags and apologised."

The customer then made a mistake by  scanning the item twice, but when the same worker came to help him,  "he walked behind her and put his hands around her throat." Harris said.

Other customers have thrown  grocery items on the floor and stormed off after swearing at staff.

"While we understand that some customers may be frustrated by this change, there is absolutely no change for abusive behavior towards retail staff, "Gerald Dwyer, the union's national secretary said in a statement.


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