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The United Workers Union (UWU) – which represents frontline workers in health and education – has today condemned the State Government for failure to guarantee pay for workers who either fall ill or are forced to isolate as a result of COVID-19.

As the omicron variant of the virus starts to spread in hospitals and schools, workers have been told that they will not be guaranteed pay if they catch the disease or are considered a close contact.

Currently full-time public sector workers, who catch Covid at work, are being told they have to exhaust their personal leave before they can access the 20 days of COVID leave. Once this Covid leave is exhausted workers are left with no income. Casual workers are only eligible for 20 days Covid leave and once this is used similarly have no income at all.

Many workers have already used some, or all, of this Covid leave and if faced with an outbreak in their school or hospital will be left without an income.

The union is calling on the Government to commit to paying the full wages of workers who contract Covid at work and are absent through either having the virus  or having to isolate for the entirety of their absence.

UWU WA public sector coordinator Kevin Sneddon said it was in the best interest of workers and the community for the Government to ensure public sector workers were not disadvantaged financially.

“The State government needs to give assurances to workers that they’ll look after them, that they’ll care for them and that they understand the sacrifices they are making,” Mr Sneddon said.

“These are not highly paid bureaucrats, they are your education assistants, your school and hospital cleaners, the people who look after you and cook for you when you get sick, they live week-to-week.”

“It’s a disgrace that we are asking workers in health and education to be on the frontline of the biggest health threat in 100 years and then tell them if they get crook, they’re on their own.”

“Our members have been working hard for the past two years, they’ve kept our schools open and our hospitals working and now they’re being told, best not get sick or you might not be able to pay next week’s rent.”


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