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Statement attributable to United Workers Union National Secretary Tim Kennedy:

Removing paid pandemic leave in the middle of a pandemic is short-sighted and at odds with the seriousness of the COVID infection rates we are seeing across Australia.

The leave protections were fought for by the union movement in 2020 and backed by the then Labor Opposition. Now in Government, they are saying they can’t afford it. We believe that it will do greater economic and social damage by withdrawing it.

It will also hurt the very people who have shouldered the greatest load over the last two years – the low paid essential workers who were asked to turn up every day risking their health.

The leave should be extended until we have emerged from the worst of the terrible winter wave at a bare minimum.