TWU says transport cannot survive sick workforce

Supply chains already buckling under worker shortages, Michael Kaine states

TWU says transport cannot survive sick workforce
The TWU believes close contact transport workers are being forced to return to work


The Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) has slammed the National Cabinet decision to send those most likely carrying the virus back to work without even the provision of free rapid antigen tests, predicting the transport crisis will significantly worsen in the coming weeks.

TWU national secretary Michael Kaine says sickness will bring down supply chains already buckling under worker shortages.

"National Cabinet has cut the last thread of hope the transport industry had of recovering from chronic worker shortages.

"Distribution centres will become virus hotbeds sending more essential workers to their sick beds, infecting their families along the way.

"We’re already hearing reports of close contact transport workers forced to return to work, leaving childcare to sick partners. Other close contacts were handed gloves and wipes and told to keep working until they tested positive," Kaine says.

"These are the workers who’ve kept us going throughout the pandemic, now given no choice but to risk their own health and that of their families."

RELATED ARTICLE: Rapid test shortage impacting transport

Kaine points out that the TWU warned Prime Minister Scott Morrison months ago that supply chains would be crippled if he failed to set aside free and abundant supplies of rapid antigen tests.

"True to character, the Prime Minister refused to act. Now, he’s sacrificing workers to save his own skin.

"For the industry to survive this wave, transport workers need free and abundant rapid antigen tests, prioritisation and leave for booster shots, and isolation of those most likely carrying the virus. Now is the time to shield the suffering industry, not detonate more virus explosions in essential workplaces.

"To lessen this significant blow, we call on all states and territories to adopt similar requirements to the Victorian Government which states all other options must be exhausted before bringing close contacts into the workplace, and that consent must be given from both worker and workplace."

The TWU cites five letters sent to Scott Morrison dating from June 2021 to October 27, with one response arriving from the Prime Minister’s office in November.

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