Workers in the hospitality industry have expressed their deep anxiety ahead of Victoria easing restrictions today.
The United Workers Union (UWU), which represents a variety of public-facing workers including hospitality, is calling on the State Government to immediately institute the following:
- Proper training and support for workers checking vaccination status to help de-escalate and empower them to deal with abusive customers and report non-complaint bosses,
- Penalties for non-compliant bosses who are not upholding mask mandates and capacity limits and a hotline for workers to report bosses, and
- Rapid antigen testing in every venue, so workers with immunocompromised family members can easily check if they have covid / taking it home.
Workers in hospitality and other industries have been speaking out about their concerns about the reopening of their industries on www.openingup.com.au, a new website launched by the United Workers Union that provides live data on Covid-safety.
Workers reported being “terrified” at the prospect of taking COVID-19 back to their homes and communities, and many hospitality workers say they want dedicated security to help enforce QR codes and vaccination status compliance.
One hospitality worker, who works at a restaurant in Melbourne’s Yarra Valley, and is also a carer for her immuno-compromised niece who is undergoing treatment for brain cancer said:
“The worry I will have to be working alongside people and customers who are not fully vaccinated and that I will take the disease home to my niece.”
UWU Hospo Voice director Karma Lord said the union was reiterating its calls for all State Governments to urgently issue clear and binding rules for employers to protect the health and welfare of workers on the frontline.
“Lots of frontline workers have taken a massive financial hit from this pandemic. They want to resume working but they want to do it safely. But in industries like in hospo, where casualisation is the norm, workers feel uneasy about raising safety issues when they can lose shifts or taken off the roster,” Lord said.
“This huge power imbalance means workers are not empowered to protect themselves and the community from non-compliant customers and patrons.
“If there are no repercussions for reckless and irresponsible bosses then workers will be put at risk of COVID-transmission and abuse from a small but extremely vocal part of the community.”
UWU is encouraging workers from all industries to document experiences of customers not complying with the various COVID-19 restriction via – openingup.com.au.
Since NSW eased restrictions on 11 October 70 percent of respondents to the website have said they do not feel COVID- safe at work.
When asked whether the worker was ‘concerned about having to ask people to wear a mask, check-in or show vaccination status’, more than two-thirds responded that they were concerned.
Other workers have reported having to provide their own personal protective equipment and the majority reported that they were concerned about exposure to COVID-19 at work.
Some workers have shared their stories and suggestions via the survey:
“Customers always argue when asked to wear a mask or abide by the rules being enforced and we have had to call police or security but once they arrive it’s too late. You do worry for your own safety at work because people are unpredictable.” – Hospitality worker Chloe.
To see the full results from the survey, go to: https://openingup.com.au/results/
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