Calls have been made for supermarket staff to be paid an extra $5 an hour in danger money, amid moves to install plastic shields at the checkout to prevent the coronavirus from spreading.
The retail workers' union - the SDA [Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees' Association] - is calling for the extra pay because of the tough conditions staff are facing.
"We're calling it an essential workers' allowance," said Barbara Nebart, SDA Newcastle branch secretary.
Supermarket staff have been pleading with companies to do more to protect them from the coronavirus. Woolworths will install plexiglass checkout screens.
Woolworths Supermarkets managing director Claire Peters said: "As our team members continue providing for the community, we will do everything necessary to uphold public health and safety in our stores".
The union has issued supermarkets and other retailers with a 10-point plan to improve health and safety for workers.
A lack of cleaning and disinfecting in supermarkets are among the concerns.
The union has also called for supermarkets to provide plastic bags for free.
"That way our workers aren't using material bags, which can be quite dirty," Ms Nebart said.
She said staff were "getting slammed".
They continue to face aggressive and abusive customers, "particularly when they are told there's a limit on items they're wanting to buy".
Supermarket staff have reported numerous cases of people shopping while sick.
There has also been cases of customers telling staff they have just returned from overseas. In other words, such people are ignoring the government's requirement to self-isolate at home for 14 days.
"It's horrendous," Ms Nebart said.
She said one supermarket company was providing hand sanitiser to staff that was "not alcohol-based".
"I know there's probably a shortage, but they have to provide the alcohol-content sanitiser, otherwise it's not going to work," she said.
Retailers in the US like Walmart, Target and Amazon - along with supermarkets - have raised hourly wages for workers by $2, despite the country having a notorious industrial relations system. Some companies are giving cash bonuses to staff.
The wage rise is due to these workers being on the frontlines of the coronavirus crisis.
As well as a $5 an hour rise, the union in Australia is urging supermarkets and customers to go "cash-free as best they can".
"I know some of the elderly won't be able to comply with that one. That's something for the companies to work on as best they can. We're asking for people to use card payments, so workers aren't touching money," she said.
Supermarkets have begun displaying signs and floor markings for social distancing. The plexiglass shields are expected to take a few weeks to be installed.
"Where plexiglass can't be put in, we're asking for face shields. It looks like a welder's mask, but it's clear," Ms Nebart said.
The association's 10-point plan to improve health and safety for workers also includes providing workers with gloves and increased security to enforce purchase limits and deal with unreasonable customers.
The plan also calls for police resources to be deployed to protect workers if necessary, regular cleaning and sanitisation of workstations and personal protective equipment and a zero-tolerance approach to customer violence and abuse.