Media Releases Archives - United Workers Union
July 28, 2021

Food supply chain at risk as COVID takes root in workplaces across Sydney

The United Workers Union has become increasingly concerned about COVID-19 positive cases in the food supply chain, including at distribution centres that supply major supermarkets Woolworths, Coles and Aldi. Last week, workers at a cold storage facility in Erskine Park stopped work following a confirmed COVID-19 case. The company which runs the centre – Scott’s Refrigerated Logistics – was resistant to ceasing operations, putting the whole site at risk of exposure. NSW Health authorities directed the company to send workers home to get tested and to deep clean the site. The company has subsequently refused to cover the lost wages for the workers affected. Food distribution centres are staffed largely by workers from Local Government Areas worst impacted by the spread of COVID. Despite the NSW government introducing mandatory testing for workers in some LGAs, the workers are still able to work while they await a result. This has meant […]
July 21, 2021


A new report by academics with the ACU highlights the experience of warehouse workers who lost their jobs when Woolworths, Australia’s largest private sector employer, closed the Hume Distribution Centre in the northern Melbourne suburb of Broadmeadows in 2019. In 2015, Woolworths announced its plan to close the Hume DC and relocate operations to a new automated site, the Melbourne South Regional Distribution Centre in Melbourne’s southeast. The Hume DC was finally closed at the beginning of 2020. Cumulatively, almost 700 jobs were affected.  The report finds that: Unemployment was extremely high among retrenched workers—a problem which was sharpened by the Covid-19 crisis. There was a major decline in wage income among workers in new jobs. Problems of insecure work are getting worse. Insufficient local opportunities combined with low labour market mobility to limit workers’ access to new jobs, including opportunities in other Melbourne warehouses (and including the MSRDC in […]
July 17, 2021


Today private pathology covid testers will rally in hazmat suits for fair pay.  WHEN: 1 pm TODAY Saturday 17 July 2021 WHERE: St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital – 457 Wickham Terrace, Spring Hill QLD 4000. WHAT: Private pathology workers from the two largest for-profit pathology companies Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology and QML pathology are rallying out the front of St Andrew’s private hospital for fair pay and secure jobs. WHO: United Workers Union spokesperson Karthika Raghwan will be available for comment. Both companies have policies forbidding workers from speaking to the media under threat of retribution so workers are wearing hazmat suits to protect their identity. Quotes attributable to United Workers Union spokesperson Karthika Raghwan: “Workers at private pathology companies like Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology and QML Pathology are on the frontline of the COVID-19 response in Queensland. They are risking their health and safety on a daily basis to keep the […]
July 15, 2021


Shocking assaults that hospitalised four Correctional Officers overnight have exposed the short-staffing that is risking the safety and lives of staff and inmates in the Tasmania Prisons Service, United Workers Union said today. “Last night’s violence is a clear message to the Premier that he must end the cutbacks and neglect so Correctional Officers can do the jobs the community expects them to do,” United Workers Union Correctional delegate Phil Pregnell said today. “When you fail correctional officers, you fail inmates and the community. “The buck stops with the Premier and I call on him to meet with us urgently to discuss how we can address the problems. “In the State budget next month the Premier must fund the TPS to fix the short-staffing issues facing the system that contribute to these lockdowns. “United Workers Union members are angry that their health and safety are being put at risk every […]
July 13, 2021


Teachers, Educators and Education Support Staff struggling to get access to vaccination has left schools and early learning centres unsafe, and society without a clear path out of the Covid-19 mess, three major education unions said today. In a letter released today the unions called for the Minister, Greg Hunt, to prioritise access to vaccination for teachers, educators and support staff in schools and early learning centres to keep these frontline essential workers and those they educate safe. In calling for priority vaccinations – staff in schools and early learning centres are not in any priority category at the moment – the unions argue priority access to vaccinations for staff would minimise the impact of future Covid-19 outbreaks on millions of families and children who rely on schools and early learning services. The unions – United Workers Union, the Australian Education Union and the Independent Education Union – represent thousands […]
July 12, 2021


The United Workers Union, The Parenthood and the NSW Teachers Federation have called on Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant to intervene in cuts to school cleaning across the state. With new, highly contagious variants of COVID-19 circulating, including recent cases amongst children, key school stakeholders wrote to Dr Chant today to raise concerns about the state of school cleaning and the potential impact it may have on school communities and the state’s ability to control outbreaks of COVID-19. New South Wales school cleaners have raised issues including not having enough time to clean the areas required of them, inadequate PPE, poor training, and problems with faulty equipment. On top of this, the NSW Government is pushing ahead with cuts to cleaning hours in up to 480 public schools. Quotes attributable to Judith Barber, NSW school cleaner: “Cutting the cleaning hours of essential workers like me, means cutting the hygiene […]
July 9, 2021

Workers escalate campaign against multi-million dollar leisure conglomerate

Workers from Annette Kellerman Aquatic Centre will continue to go the distance in their campaign against being stood down without pay. Belgravia Leisure, which runs the Inner West Council-owned facility, met with workers and the United Workers Union on Monday to discuss the provision of paid pandemic leave. The meeting, however, was not a good faith negotiation. Despite agreeing to meet, management repeated its hard-line stance and offered no further assistance to the workforce, apart from to point their employees to a mental health service provider. United Workers Union Allied Director Godfrey Moase said Belgravia Group was in a good enough financial position to look after its workers and had a duty to as local government contractor. “Annette Kellerman is a piece of public infrastructure which belongs to the community of Sydney’s Inner West,” Moase said. “Many of the workers that have been hung out to dry are an important […]
July 9, 2021


Today workers at Kapooka Army base will begin strike action after negotiations have failed to secure fair conditions and wages after two years of bargaining. The workers – which are employed by defence subcontractor Downer – undertake various roles at the base, such as firefighting, operating the firing range, groundskeeping and cleaning. Most of these workers are on minimum wage. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Downer’s facilities arm Spotless, still recorded $62.5 million in revenue according to the company’s half-year results released in February. In those results the company indicated it was the growth in its defence business that offset other losses across the organisation. United Workers Union Organiser Fletcher Beverley said it was completely unreasonable that such a profitable company should pay minimum wage to workers who have kept Australia’s defence bases operating during such a challenging time. “Despite working on these highly-sensitive and critical defence sites, most workers are […]
June 30, 2021


The entire workforce at Annette Kellerman Aquatic Centre in Sydney’s Inner West has been stood down without pay for the duration of the Sydney lockdown. The workers are employed by Belgravia Leisure, which operates the Enmore-based aquatic and fitness facility. Belgravia Group’s chief executive is Geoff Lord, who last year featured in The Financial Review Rich List for 2020 with a personal fortune of $569 million. Permanent workers are being forced to dip into leave entitlements and casual workers are facing dire financial circumstances. The United Workers Union is demanding full pay for regular hours of work for all workers at the centre for the duration of lockdown. A public petition has been released by the union demanding management meet with employees to discuss the provision of paid pandemic leave. Workers from the centre, who remain anonymous for fear of reprisal have said they feel insulted by the actions of […]