“We believe that COVID-19 vaccines are going to be rolled out in the near future - and that some workers/workplaces will be designated ‘priority’ and will be receiving them first. What can you tell us about this?”
You are right - there is a lot happening in this ‘space’ at the moment. Firstly, it’s important to know that in Australia all vaccines will be free of charge. Discussions between the States and Federal Health departments have taken place to identify priority groups who will be first in line to get vaccinated. These considerations include occupation.Read more
In the last edition of the Workers’ Solidarity Bulletin, we looked at the ugly face of racism in the workplace, and in sport in particular. The column was sparked by a letter to The Age following a nasty incident during an Australia-India cricket match.
In this edition we revisit the topic after the AFL’s ‘Do Better’ report was leaked to the press, an Independent review into Collingwood Football Club’s responses to Incidents of Racism and Cultural Safety in the Workplace. The report, commissioned by the club, was authored by University of Technology Sydney’s distinguished professor, Yuwaalaraay woman Larissa Behrendt and Professor Lindon Coombes. The club had decided from the start that it would make the report public, yet despite having received it in mid-December of last year, there was no mention of it for over seven weeks– but surely its findings could not have come as a shock.Read more
“It is time to prevent workplace abuse on the pitch.
Tim Paine was at work on that cricket pitch. If you abuse people at work, you will be summoned to a formal investigation. Sometimes you are demoted or lose your job. At a minimum, you end up with a formal warning. Being “under pressure’ is not a defence.
Paine is paid millions to play sport. That is a privilege that most workers never enjoy. If he cannot perform the inherent requirements of his job without abusing others, then why is he there? It is time WorkSafe investigated Cricket Australia. What effort, if any, is that employer making to prevent workplace abuse?”
Letter from union comrade Cindy O’Connor, printed in The Age recently.Read more
“The gig economy is designed to provide large corporations with a bottomless pool of expendable cheap labour – that can be dismissed or replaced with and for which they have no duty of care.”
(First Dog on the Moon)
What is the status of non-permanent workers under the OHS Act? Can they be elected as HSRs?
“I’ve been told by a manager that casual workers are ineligible to nominate in HSR elections, is that true?”
“Hi, I just want to know if, on returning to our workplace, managers can elect NOT to wear masks under “COVID-normal” ops? I do and was never asked not to, just the same, is the law not strong on this?”
“I am almost 63 years old and was wondering what weight an employer can ask me to lift on a regular daily basis? I’m working in a job where the employer says that 20 kgs is the “standard weight”. But in reality we’re often told to lift and carry bags that are closer to 25 kgs, and this can be up to 50 times a day. I feel this is too heavy for someone my age. After I raised this, the site supervisor gave us a demonstration on safe lifting techniques, and put some posters up in the lunchroom.”
One of the seemingly hardest duties for many employers to comply with is the duty to consult with elected health and safety representatives (HSRs). This is a legal duty under the Victorian Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 – and has been a legal duty since 1985 when workers were given the right to elect representatives, and these representatives were given rights and powers.Read more
COVID-19 – and the measures workplaces are having to take in seeking to minimise the risk of workers contracting the disease – is continuing to have consequences, sometimes unforeseen ones. The VTHC gets some interesting questions from workers – here’s one:
“I’m a truck driver and make deliveries to, and pick up containers from, various companies and locations. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, I am constantly getting denied access to toilets. Previously there were no problems with me using their facilities. Is this legal? Can these companies deny me access to the toilets when I’m doing deliveries? On one occasion recently three clients in a row wouldn’t allow me to use their facilities, and this created a real problem for me.”Read more
On the evening of August 4, a fire in what is believed to be a fireworks factory, led to a small explosion in the port area of Beirut, Lebanon. Subsequently there was a massive explosion of a warehouse holding 2,700 metric tonnes of ammonium nitrate.
Ammonium nitrate is a common fertilizing agent - and is also the main ingredient in some types of explosives. The chemical had been stored in the warehouse since 2014 when it had been seized from a Russian cargo ship. It has been reported that Lebanese customs officials wrote letters to the judiciary at least six times from 2014 to 2017, seeking guidance on how to dispose of the highly combustible material – reportedly not getting any response. Because of the nature of the materials they were unable to act. Other reports are that customs officials did not follow proper procedures: they simply kept resending the same letters in response to the judge’s request for more information.Read more