Skip to content Skip to footer

MEDIA RELEASE   In a report to State and Federal Governments, the union for hospitality workers has today raised major concerns that governments and employers would put profits before the safety of workers and the community in the re-opening of the sector.

The Australian hospitality industry has been hit worse than any other by the current crisis, with an estimated 1 in 3 paid jobs lost in the month from March alone according to ABS data. Prior to COVID-19, workers in the sector faced widespread wage theft, poor safety standards, harassment and insecure jobs.

United Workers Union National Secretary Tim Kennedy said the hospitality industry had an appalling track record when it came to looking after workers, and there needed to be strict measures in place as restrictions eased to ensure everyone’s safety.

“Like all Australians, we want things to return to normal and for workers to be back at work as soon as possible. But the top priority as things re-open must be safety,” Mr Kennedy said.

“We have very real concerns that the Federal Government and State Governments have tunnel vision in the re-opening efforts, and are going to put profits before safety.

“That’s why hospitality workers need a seat at the table and a clear set of standards upheld to ensure the entire community can have confidence the industry can re-open safely.

“We are calling on governments to implement mandatory training for all hospitality staff prior to any venue re-opening; the provision of paid pandemic leave for all hospitality workers; and a zero-tolerance approach to any employer who does not comply.

“As restrictions continue to ease, United Workers will propose further recommendations to assist the industry toward pre-COVID-19 levels in a safe manner.

“Together, we will get through this crisis and rebuild a safer, fairer and better hospitality industry for all Australians.”

As part of the first stage of the re-opening of the industry, and to complement the safety measures Governments are already adopting, United Workers Union recommends:

  1. Paid training for all hospitality staff prior to any venue re-opening to ensure workers are confident to identify, raise and resolve concerns in a COVID-19 environment. Workers need access to information, advice and support from their union in developing strong OHS cultures and practices in the workplace.
  2. Universal sick leave for all hospitality workers, including casuals, to ensure those who are sick do not come to work out of economic need.
  3. Workers in their unions must be authorised to notify state governments of non-compliance to ensure businesses adhere to regulations and community expectations. Without reporting mechanisms in place the health of both patrons and employees could be jeopardised.

View the full RE-OPENING THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY United Workers Union position paper here.