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Welcome support for Tasmanian visa workers – Federal Government must now follow Tasmania’s lead

United Workers Union welcomes the decision by the Tasmanian Government to provide $3 million of financial assistance to temporary migrant workers. The union’s migrant members have been facing a dire situation, cut off from Federal Government assistance and affordable healthcare during the coronavirus crisis.

The union wrote to Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein last week highlighting the heartbreaking situation of migrant members in crisis and welcomes the move to provide some support to these workers – as well as recognising their importance to Tasmania’s society and economy.

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg must take notice of this move to assist workers who contribute so much to our economy and community – he can extend this assistance at a national level with the stroke of a pen.

Jannette Armstrong, United Workers Union Tasmanian spokesperson says, “United Workers Union represents thousands of workers across Tasmania, and we have many temporary migrant members working in essential industries such as food supply, farms, early childhood education and care, cleaning, and security.

“The Covid-19 crisis has created huge uncertainties for all Tasmanian workers, but migrant workers until now have been left out of support initiatives from the state government.

“Sadly, over the past few weeks, United Workers Union Tasmania has been made aware of a number of heartbreaking situations and personal stories of migrant workers in crisis. This financial assistance will make a start to alleviate these financial pressures.

“The union wrote to the Premier last week requesting urgent action to support temporary migrant workers, raising important matters of public health and welfare. Our members have been left in limbo due to the uncertainty of ever-changing travel restrictions and border closures, with no guaranteed access to safe and affordable healthcare and cut off from financial support amidst the global coronavirus pandemic.

“This is a reflection of an inclusive and caring Tasmania: it’s now time for the Federal Government to also implement supportive measures for temporary migrant workers nationwide.”

United Workers Union continues to call on the Federal Government to implement the following measures to support migrant workers nationwide:

  1. Guaranteed paid special leave for all workers – permanent, casual, labour hire and contract – who are forced to either self-isolate as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, or where there is a genuine business downturn or shutdown as a result of the pandemic.
  2. Universal income support for all workers – permanent, casual, labour hire and contract – who lose work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, or where there is a genuine business downturn or shutdown as a result of the pandemic.
  3. Implementation of an information ‘firewall’ between health services and the Department of Home Affairs, so that all workers feel safe to get the treatment they need irrespective of visa status.
  4. Immediate end to visa enforcement and detention actions by the Department of Home Affairs targeting essential workers, noting that these actions serve only to force workers in hiding which, at this time, poses a serious risk to their health.
  5. Immediate resolution of status for the thousands of undocumented migrant workers in Australia, to provide them with lawful status to continue their crucial work.
  6. Immediate government funding for adequate community isolation stations for temporary migrant workers to access if they are exposed to the virus, and to ensure Workers do not face out-of-pocket expenses related to COVID-19 testing and treatment.

The letter United Workers Union wrote to the Tasmanian Premier requesting urgent action for migrant workers is available here.


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