The United Workers Union (UWU), which represents various workers in industries including health, education, early education, and aged and disability care has welcomed the McGowan Government’s decision to delay the domestic border opening.
The union has been sounding the alarm for the last fortnight that the Federal Government’s failure to provide adequate personal protective equipment, rapid antigen tests (RATs) and income support for those who cannot work as a result of contracting COVID-19, has had disastrous consequences.
In aged care, UWU has been working with other unions and aged care providers to get the Federal Government to act quickly to address the crisis, which is taking place in the sector, where omicron is tearing through homes across every State apart from WA.
While in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC), UWU along with the Australian Education Union has called on the Federal Government to take five critical steps to address to issues being experienced in that sector. Read more about those steps here.
In hospitals across the country, those that have not been infected and are still working are having holidays cancelled and doing double and triple shifts, according to paramedics and other health workers in Queensland and Victoria.
UWU WA Secretary Carolyn Smith said she understood it was a tough announcement for those with family overseas or interstate but that many workers in the most vulnerable industries were breathing a sigh of relief today.
“Since Christmas I have been flooded with calls from workers and colleagues over east describing the disaster which is unfolding,” Ms Smith said.
“The supply chain has fallen apart because Scott Morrison did not have a plan to ameliorate his ‘let it rip’ strategy.
“Health care and aged care providers are eligible for free RATs and PPE, through the National Stockpile but they are unable to access these life-saving tools until it’s often too late.
“I know some of our members haven’t seen their family in years but to open the borders on 5 February while omicron spreads unabated in the eastern states would put too many workers and the people they care for at risk.
“Workers in all of the industries that we represent outside of WA are being frequently exposed to infection but have little support to get tested or to isolate. Many industries rely heavily on casual workers, but these workers face financial insecurity and enormous pressure to return to work, potentially infecting others.”
As well as calling on Scott Morrison to do his job with regards to the overall management of the pandemic Ms Smith said there was also an opportunity for the WA Government to properly learn from what is happening in other states.
“We have been given a chance to get this right it’s now up to State Government, Premier Mark McGowan and his Ministers to sit down with workers across the various industries that will be most impacted when the border opens to understand their concerns and ideas,” she said.