COVID-19 is a very contagious, and very deadly disease.
It spreads easily, it spreads through the air.
It spreads in workplaces.
Staying home will stop the spread.
But some workers can’t stay at home.
Workers in health and hospitals, in public transport, in supermarkets, workers involved in essential services, in food production, and moving essential products around – these workers can’t stay at home.
Bosses must provide safe workplaces for workers that can’t stay at home.
But the bosses don’t always provide safe workplaces.
This is because it costs money. It costs productivity in the amount of goods produced, and it costs money to provide personal protective equipment and regular deep cleaning of workplaces. It costs money to provide information and training. It costs money to pay sick leave.
There are many examples of bosses refusing to provide safe workplaces.
Diamond Valley Pork forced workers back to work before they got the results of their second COVID-19 tests. A majority of the workers, members of the AMIEU, refused to go back to work until the results were in.
Woolworths Liquor Distribution Centre stayed open after a worker was confirmed to have COVID-19. Hundreds of workers walked off the job a day later.
And there are many, many more examples.
Some workers keep going to work, even when they are sick, because their only choice is to work while being sick, or to starve. This is not a choice.
Some workers are not allowed to go to work. Because of the pandemic, their workplace is closed. So they are not getting paid. They might lose their home. They may be unable to pay for medicines or food or clothes for their children.
Even during this pandemic, the bosses are still making a profit. QANTAS has sacked more than 6000 workers. But Alan Joyce, the boss of QANTAS gets paid $23million per year. QANTAS made a profit of $771 million in 2020.
Unions and the ACTU have won paid pandemic leave for aged care workers. But not all workers.
We must extend paid pandemic leave for all workers! We won’t win this by asking for it, we won’t win this by signing petitions or by participating in zoom meetings. The only way we will win paid pandemic leave for all, is by fighting for it. The fight must be in the workplaces, in the industries that are still operating, by the workers that are still being forced to work in unsafe workplaces.
We must strike.
We must close down unsafe work places.
When workers get sick, they must have access to quality, free healthcare.
They must have access to pandemic leave or another easily obtained living income.
They must be able to quarantine or self-isolate safely, in housing that is adequate, safe and secure, without risk of eviction.
These are our demands.
This is what we are fighting for.
A Living Income for all - Free Health Care for all - Secure Housing for all