“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
The Covid-19 pandemic is a stress test for societies at a global scale. The virus has been ruthless in exposing underlying fault lines and weaknesses in almost all countries, while also revealing strengths.Read more
“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?”
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
The media and the politicians are telling us that many of us in Melbourne, Victoria are experiencing lockdown fatigue. That the people that are defying the lockdown laws are crazy or antisocial. They are telling us to hang in there, that we are all in this together.
There is another way to understand this fatigue.Read more
We have heard the Premier of Victoria, Daniel Andrews, say that at one stage at least, 80 per cent of newly identified COVID-19 infections came from workplaces.
During Stage 4 all non-essential businesses in metropolitan Melbourne have been closed – and those that are still operating must have implemented a COVIDSafe plan by midnight August 7. In addition, workers needing to move outside their 5km from home, or who need to be out between 8pm and 5am must also have Permitted Worker Permits. These are measures being taken by the government to control Victoria’s ‘second’ and more serious wave of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Apart from the drastic financial effects of these measures on workers and employers/businesses, - what implications are there for employers if a worker contracts COVID-19 in the course of their employment?Read more
In the last fortnight, the franchise industry has called for the scrapping of weekend and evening penalty rates. They have said that the COVID-19 pandemic can be used to “shift the paradigm” on industrial relations.
Also in the last fortnight, the High Court of Australia ruled against giving part time and shift workers sick leave based on the number of hours worked, versus the number of days worked. It means that workers working 8 hour days, and workers working 12 hour days, accrue the same amount of sick leave. Cadbury argued that a “normal day” was 7.6 hours, and every worker could accrue no more than 10 x 7.6 hour days in sick leave. This was a battle fought by Cadbury workers, represented by the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union. The AMWU won this fight in the Federal Court. But Cadbury took the fight higher. The new decision will save employers billions of dollars in our wages, and costs us billions of dollars in lost wages.Read more
Australia is now firmly in the throes of a recession, as is the rest of the world. Unemployment is at levels not seen since the Great Depression. Entire industries have been destroyed, and many companies will close their doors and simply will not be seen again.
Previous editions of this Bulletin have argued that the economic crisis, though catalysed by the COVID-19 pandemic, was in the makings well before the first COVID case emerged in December 2019. This was evidenced by the crisis in retail, with some 169 closures of outlets in January 2020, as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald in the same month. Those closures and the impact of the retail crisis emerged before the full impact of low sales over the Christmas and holiday period would be realised. In January 2020, these were figures not seen in several decades.Read more
In the past week there has been an increase in alarm with the number of new COVID-19 infections growing in Victoria in numbers not seen since mid-March. The numbers are still extremely low if we look at other countries – for example the hotspot councils of Moreland and Hume had 26 and 51 active cases respectively early last week. However, the number of new infections in the state increased by 75 on Sunday June 28, the highest since the peak in April, illustrating we cannot be complacent.Read more
"My employer has started to make noises about us
gradually returning to work. What are some of the issues
we need to be aware of?"