Unions believe the decision to wind back close contact isolation requirements in NSW is reckless and will threaten the health and safety of staff, while exacerbating supply chain disruptions, AAP reports.
The Transport Workers Union urged prime minister Scott Morrison to include unions in an urgent supply chain meeting scheduled for Sunday afternoon to properly hear their concerns.
TWU says NSW Health’s decision to wind back self-isolation requirements for close contacts who work in critical industries like food logistics means employers could prioritise operational matters over the safety of workers.
TWU national secretary Michael Kaine:
Scrapping isolation requirements for transport workers is beyond reckless – workers are being thrown to the wolves by a government that continues to ignore all the warnings. We know even if you’re asymptomatic you can still spread the virus.
NSW Health’s decision requires asymptomatic close contacts to wear masks and take daily rapid antigen tests, but the union says RATs alone don’t offer enough protection as they won’t pick up every Covid-19 case.
Kaine said the TWU wrote to the prime minister and national cabinet in September and October urging governments to provide rapid tests to road transport workers to avoid unnecessary delays and keep drivers on the road.
SDA national secretary
Gerard Dwyer said this situation is again the result of the prime minister’s negligence and failure to plan or demonstrate genuine leadership:
The prime minister must ensure as a matter of absolute immediacy priority access to free rapid antigen tests and appropriate PPE for essential frontline retail workers in stores and distribution centres.
The authorities must act to give shoppers sufficient confidence to ensure retail workers do not become the targets of abuse and worse in the face of supply shortages of food and other essentials.
Greg Hunt insists there is a progressive increase in rapid antigen tests being made available, with the commonwealth having purchased 70m, and now over 200m when states and territories are included. There have also been very significant private acquisitions.
He said the commonwealth is looking to supply the states with 10m tests over the coming weeks, while over 5m have been supplied to aged care facilities.
But opposition leader
Anthony Albanese said these issues are contrary to the statements that have been made by the NSW and federal governments.
Everything isn’t all okay in the health system in New South Wales. There are major issues with the pressure on the hospital systems. The ‘Let it rip’ approach is creating major issues in our health system, with people under such enormous pressure.
Source : https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/live/2022/jan/09/novak-djokovic-court-visa-omicron-covid-case-numbers-hospitals-queensland-floods579