** UPDATE - 01/02/2021
Dear ETU member,
As you’d be aware, yesterday the State Government announced a full lockdown of the Perth Metro, Peel & South West region due to a positive Covid-19 test by a security guard at a Perth quarantine hotel.
The ETU supports the early actions of the McGowan Government in enacting strict lockdown procedures to limit potential community spread. This stringent compliance with scientific and medical advice has made WA the envy of the world in keeping our greater community virus free for almost 10 months.
The Health Dept tracing team has issued a list of potential exposure sites (click here https://www.healthywa.wa.gov.au/Articles/A_E/Coronavirus/Locations-visited-by-confirmed-cases).
Anyone who may have been at any of those locations is urged to take a Covid test and remain isolated until the result is known.
All the information regarding restrictions can be found on the State Government website here: https://www.wa.gov.au/organisation/department-of-the-premier-and-cabinet/covid-19-coronavirus-latest-updates
There’s a potential of thousands of possible exposures but at the time of writing no new positive cases. Obviously the initial 5 day lockdown period may need to be extended to maximise the likelihood of the outbreak being controlled quickly if more new cases are found. Please check the links above for the latest information as the days progress.
Some of the main work-related issues surrounding our members are as follows –
Can I go to work?
Yes - if you cannot work from home you should turn up for work, unless informed by your employer.
Must I wear a mask?
Yes. The Government has made it mandatory to wear a mask in all instances outside of your home, including workplaces.
Should my employer provide the masks?
Yes, the employer must provide all PPE. However they may not have masks available immediately as we’ve all been blindsided with the speed at which this has been implemented. If wearing masks during labour intensive work, particularly in the heat, makes you fatigued you are allowed to stop and take sufficient breaks. Ultimately if you believe the work is unsafe to continue you are legally allowed to stop and request that your employer provides other work that you can carry-out safely.
I’m a FIFO worker – do I mobilise for my swing?
Regardless of Covid, there are issues currently regarding a cyclone in the North West. But our advice at the moment is to contact your employer and let them know that you’re ready willing and available to mobilise, although you probably will not be allowed to fly out. The Government and resource companies are making plans to protect the industry as much as possible.
What can we all do to help?
As mentioned earlier we’ve been virus free for months. To get back to that we must follow the health guidelines, wash hands regularly, use hand-sanitiser; keep social distance and wear masks. We all have an individual and collective responsibility to do the right thing and get us back to ‘normality’ as soon as possible. The ETU office is open all week and Organisers will be on the job where you need us.
Call us if you need to talk or require further information.
ETU WA State Secretary.
** UPDATE - 12/05/2020
JOINT MEDIA RELEASE BY WESTERN AUSTRALIAN BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY ASSOCIATIONS AND UNIONS
A coalition of Industry Associations and Trade Unions have joined together to develop guidelines for managing the risks associated with COVID-19 on Western Australian construction sites. The guidelines will be regularly updated and made widely available within the Building and Construction Industry.
The Building and Construction Industry employs over 120,000 Western Australians, 94% of who are employed in small businesses, and turns over around $33 billion each year.
As an essential service, WA’s building and construction industry has continued to operate during the pandemic, with appropriate physical distancing, hygiene and other controls in place to minimise the risk of transmission of the virus. To date, the industry has been successful, with no known cases of COVID-19 on construction sites.
Twelve industry associations and trade unions have agreed that maintaining up to date guidelines on how best to manage the health and safety risks from COVID-19 will support the industry’s continued safe operations, noting the need to manage these risks will be with communities and their industry for many months.
We encourage our members to read this comprehensive guideline for effectively managing your health, safety and wellbeing.
** UPDATE - 10/04/2020
ACTU Centre for Health and Safety Update 2020/26
Author: Jenny Holden, Executive Assistant to Assistant Secretary, Liam O’Brien
Last night, the JobKeeper legislation passed through Parliament. This means $130 billion in wage subsidies will now go directly to workers to save millions of jobs.
The Coronavirus Workers’ Rights Resource Centre has put together some resources to help you understand what it means for working people including eligibility, rights (including health and safety), entitlements and changes made to the law.
We are keen to make sure that all workers understand how this scheme will affect them. Please feel free to forward this email to your friends, family and co-workers and encourage them to sign up to the mailing list.
TO ALL MEMBERS
I urge you to read all of this below as there’s some important information which may help members and their families.
The COVID-19 global pandemic means we are living in unprecedented times. To survive and see this through we need to act as a community. The ETU is an integral part of that community.
On the immediate health risks and how to prevent the spread please see the attachment for our Health & Hygiene statement based on World Health Organisation guidelines.
In summary it is imperative that to we all practice good hygiene standards and social distancing – AS EVIDENCED AROUND THE WORLD IT ACTUALLY WORKS TO LIMIT THE SPREAD OF THIS VIRUS!
This crisis is both a health and economic one and is changing on a daily basis.
Therefore, as ETU state secretary I have been meeting with State Government ministers & their advisors and (along with your organisers) major employers & contractors on your behalf and will continue to do so going forward.
While the health issues are of obvious paramount importance workers are as equally concerned with job security and pay provisions if they are forced to self-isolate or fall ill with the virus.
As such many of these discussions have focused on our campaign that all workers should be paid 2 weeks special leave regardless of their employment contract. Many State Govn’t departments have already agreed, as have some private sector employers whom ETU members work for (contact your organisers for more details). Along with other unions we are campaigning and lobbying other employers and contractors for the same provisions, as well as the federal government to include in their economic stimulus packages. Click to sign the petition https://www.megaphone.org.au/petitions/coronovirus-support-paid-sick-leave-for-casual-workers
We also believe that in these extraordinary times there should be NO REDUNDANCIES of any worker! Employers and Governments must realise that throwing hundreds of thousands of workers on the social scrapheap of minimal unemployment benefits will collapse the economy and make it even harder to stimulate once this thing is over. There is no shortage of money in the Australian economy and financial system, just an ideological difference on how it is distributed. Quite simply workers jobs should be prioritised before the profits of wealthy companies and their shareholders. I urge you to read the attached ‘ETU brief’ and understand what the ETU is doing for members in the political background.
What happens if WA is forced to lockdown?
Given that other states will be in lockdown this week it will only be a matter of time before WA follows suit.
So what is essential and non-essential activities? Under the national guidelines, travel to school, to workplaces and to shops to buy staples are all considered essential, as is travel on compassionate grounds, or for emergencies. The use of public transport for school or work is also considered an essential activity as well as healthcare appointments and pharmacy visits.
Financial hardship payments.
In the event you fall into financial difficulty there are a number of ways you may access help to assist you and your family.
Superannuation. The Fed Govn’t have eased access to superannuation in the event of COVID-19. Please see the following information here. CBUS have also put together some helpful information on their website - click here. The majority of our members are in CBUS and for further information please contact the WA field officers Don Fowlie – 0417 971 593, Phil Milne – 0412 406 348 or the CBUS office on 08 6430 4236. If you need other super contacts please contact our office on 08 9440 3522.
Severance funds. In the event of bona-fide redundancies workers can access their severance fund payments if they’re included in your EBA or contract. However PROTECT will now allow access to some money if members need it due to financial problems associated with COVID-19. Please contact PROTECT WA field officer John Cain on 0429 109 215, or myself and the ETU organisers for further details.
ETU Hardship & Relief Fund. As you’re aware, last year we increased our fees for the first time in 3 years. Part of that increase was used to establish a H&RF to assist members when needed. If you are in financial difficulty in the coming months we may be able to help if you meet the criteria. Please contact your lead organiser or ETU office for further information to apply for assistance.
Centrelink/Jobseeker – (Download further information here). Please click link for details https://www.dss.gov.au/about-the-department/coronavirus-covid-19-information-and-support
At least one of the admin staff or organisers will be present during our normal office hours 8am-4.30pm Mon-Friday while we’re allowed to do so. Myself and all organisers will also be available to take calls and answer any questions about workplace and industrial issues, COVID-19 and your rights, health and safety issues, process payments or unemployment credits, and assist in any way we can. I’d urge members to update their contact details and any change in employer details if necessary.
If members wish to call or contact me direct my details are below.
Your organisers have also been flat-out but will still be visiting sites where possible and their contact details are listed below.
A further effective way of communicating with us is through social media and we have a very active facebook page
Further information can also be found on our website https://www.etuwa.com.au/news/
The ACTU also have excellent information which is updated daily Covid-19 resource page
The ETU is here at any time to help through this crisis.
Stay safe, and look after yourselves and each other.