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Workers rally to stop sham contracting

Statewide Quality Services, a mainland contractor, is stealing night cleaners’ wages through sham contracts at Glenorchy Central in Tasmania.   Workers, supported by the cleaners’ union United Workers Union, will rally outside the shopping centre today, calling on the property owner SCA Property Group to stop this exploitation of their cleaners.   SCA Property Group has a portfolio worth over $3 billion dollars and can afford to do the right thing. Quotes attributable to United Workers Union Property Services spokesperson Sarah Ellis: “We’ve had numerous reports from the Nepalese community that sham contracting is happening at Glenorchy Central and multiple other sites in the Greater Hobart area. “This appears to be a classic case of discrimination. Many of Glenorchy Centre’s cleaners are migrant workers, a group often targeted by dodgy contractors because they do not always know their workplace rights, such as the right to join a union. “Cleaners at Glenorchy Central have […]

Golden Farms workers demand answers over colleague’s death

MEDIA STATEMENT United Workers Union mourns the tragic death of a long-time union member who worked at the Geelong poultry processing plant, Golden Farms Turosi. We have chosen to not name the employee out of respect for the family. United Workers Union extends our deepest sympathies to all of the member’s family, friends and colleagues during this difficult time. Recently Golden Farms shut down following the identification of a number of positive COVID-19 cases at the worksite. The Union understands that at the time of death the employee was isolating as a result of contracting COVID-19. Workers are demanding Golden Farms provide answers on whether the employee contracted the virus at Golden Farms. If the cause of death is determined to be related to contracting COVID-19 at his workplace, then workers stand ready to fight for justice for their co-worker. The news has created understandable anxiety for fellow workers. To avoid further cases, and potential deaths, […]

SHOCKING WAGE THEFT STORIES HEARD IN PARLIAMENT

Workers have today shared shocking stories of wage theft at the hands of some of the state’s high profile employers, as public hearings begin for the Queensland Parliament’s proposed new wage theft laws. United Workers Union, which represents workers in industries rife with wage theft such as security, cleaning, food processing, hospitality and more, has been pushing for strong laws to be passed in Parliament to crack down on dodgy bosses using it as a business model. The Parliamentary Inquiry has recognised the many ways workers can experience wage theft, including underpayment, unpaid trials, withholding super, sham contracting, expired agreements, and not paying penalty rates and other entitlements. The Mantle Group is one high profile company that has been using wage theft as a business model for years, including at their Brisbane Pig ‘n’ Whistle venues. Former Pig ‘n’ Whistle employee Declan Langlands was dismissed from the restaurant for refusing […]

Brisbane Airport contractor must reinstate cleaning service during COVID-19 

Brisbane Airport’s cleaning company SECUREclean cancelled an essential service to profiteer, while risking their workers’ safety.   Whilst adapting to COVID safe practices to protect the community, cleaners were being directed to change and clean nappy and sanitary bins – a job previously completed by a specialised service. SECUREclean had ceased the service of the company who were changing the bins prior to COVID-19 – clearly putting profits before its people.  When United Workers Union members raised this issue, the Union initiated a health and safety inspection.  Quotes attributable to United Workers Union spokesperson for Property Services Damien Davie: “This disregard for workers’ safety is unacceptable at a time when the world is in crisis and these workers have been fronting up to work every day in a high-risk environment. “SECUREclean, who are responsible for cleaning Brisbane airport, is another example of a greedy contractor cutting corners. “But Queensland workers are ready […]

Federal Government announcement has no guarantees for educators

  Empty promises of an employment guarantee to educators did nothing to reassure early educators that they will be paid over the next six weeks. This week both the Victorian Premier Dan Andrews and Prime Minister Scott Morrison acknowledged the importance of an employment guarantee for workers in early childhood education. Early educators have been on the frontline of this pandemic, ensuring essential workers can go to work and our economy continued to function. But last month the Federal Government singled out early educators as the one sector to lose access to JobKeeper. Instead, the Government introduced a transitional payment where funding is directed to centres. This transitional payment doesn’t require any employer to pay workers a single cent of that taxpayer-funded payment. Now that Stage 4 restrictions have been announced in Victoria, job losses and stand-downs are real concerns for hundreds of thousands of Victorian workers. Other sectors have […]

Spotless Dandenong workers to be paid through their shutdown

After news of a fourth worker testing positive for COVID-19 at Spotless Dandenong, Spotless laundry employees have won the right to be paid while the workplace is shut and under quarantine. Significantly, workers who refused to attend work last Wednesday and Thursday due to concerns of contracting COVID-19 will be granted paid leave for those days. In addition, every Spotless Dandenong worker, full-time, part-time or casual, will receive a minimum of $150 per day even where they have run out or otherwise cannot access leave. Any Spotless casual worker who is not otherwise eligible for the State and Federal payment schemes for whatever reason will be paid by the company. Questions remain as to what will happen with labour hire casual workers who attended the workplace during the infectious period. The Union understands the fourth COVID case involves a labour hire worker. Consultation with workers around safely re-opening the workplace […]

240 Woolworths liquor distribution workers walk off the job over safety concerns

More than 240 Woolworths warehouse workers at a Laverton Distribution Centre have taken legal cease work action this morning after a reported positive COVID-19 case on Friday night. The busy site provides alcohol to Dan Murphy’s and BWS stores across the state. Workers met this morning to discuss if Woolworths had done enough following the case to ensure their safety, concluding the mega-corporation was not doing enough to uphold their duty to keep their employees safe. On Saturday, United Workers Union gave Woolworths a list of demands from workers on the actions they would need to take to make them safe. The list included a 72 hour deep clean in line with industry standards, to be observed by DHHS and health and safety representatives, all workers to be tested for COVID-19 during the shutdown for cleaning and all new agency, contractors and employees commencing work at the site to be tested. Woolworths has so far refused many of […]

Early educators petition Government for JobKeeper during lockdown in Victoria

Thousands of educators across the country are calling on the Federal and State Government to reinstate JobKeeper for Early Childhood Educators in Victoria for the length of the Stage 4 restrictions. Yesterday Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced that as of Thursday, early childhood services in Melbourne will close, except for children of essential workers and vulnerable children. Workers in early childhood education have already lost access to JobKeeper, meaning tens of thousands of educators working in federally-funded long day care services across Melbourne are facing today’s announcement with no guarantee of income for at least the next 6 weeks. United Workers Union is calling on the State and Federal Government to extend JobKeeper to early educators in Victoria, with a petition launched only last night gathering more than 5,000 signatures and counting. UWU’ Early Childhood Education and Care Director Helen Gibbons said: “The Government did not listen to the sector […]

Car convoy to Woolworths headquarters presents petition for wage equality

MEDIA ALERT: Car convoy to Woolworths headquarters presents petition for wage equality WHEN: 9:30 am – 10 am Monday 3 August, 2020 WHERE: 1 Woolworths Way, Bella Vista 2153 WHAT: A car convoy of workers and community supporters drive to Woolworths’ head office in support of workers currently locked out. United Workers Union delegates present a petition of over 4,500 signatures in favour of wage equality to the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Brad Banducci. WHO: United Workers Union spokesperson Brad Donnelly will be available on-site for comment. NOTE: Everyone attending this event will be expected to adhere to current social distancing guidelines. Last Thursday Woolworths locked out it’s Wyong Distribution Centre workforce indefinitely. The move came after workers angered the company by taking legal industrial action for 24 hours on July 24, in a bid to win wage equality with workers just one hour away in Sydney. Workers chose only a short stoppage […]

Woolworths punishes workers and community by locking out Wyong DC strikers indefinitely

Late last night Woolworths notified it’s Wyong Distribution Centre workforce, who had been forced to be on strike since last Friday, they would be locking the door indefinitely. The move comes after workers angered the company by taking legal industrial action for 24 hours on July 24, in a bid to win wage equality with workers just one hour away in Sydney. Workers chose only a short stoppage to not interrupt supply during the pandemic, clearly not a concern shared by Woolworths. The lockdown by Woolworths was already causing shortages in stores across the Central Coast in the last week, so this latest intimidation move is likely to worsen a deepening crisis for the locals who rely on the supermarket giant. Workers were ready to make a deal on Thursday, but Woolworths wasn’t interested in going even halfway towards wage equality. The company barely improved its offer, with only a […]

Spotless Dandenong shut down after laundry workers stand up for COVID safety

The Spotless Dandenong laundry has been shut down after a Department of Health and Human Services investigation into the company’s handling of three positive cases at the site. Union members took a stand for their safety and the safety of the community, refusing to go to work until the outbreak had been properly investigated. Health authorities have advised any worker who has spent more than 30 minutes at the site since July 6 is considered a close contact, who must be tested and remain in quarantine for 14 days. The site was shut down at close of business yesterday (Thursday 30 July), but workers still don’t know what entitlements they will receive. Attribute to United Workers Union Director Godfrey Moase: “Spotless was forced to act because union members took a stand. If it wasn’t for the workers, this outbreak could have been much worse. “Spotless Dandenong workers are low-wage migrant […]

Move on aged care workforce could hinder pandemic effort

Hasty moves to stop aged care workers from working in multiple aged care facilities in Queensland threaten to hinder efforts to combat the pandemic, United Workers Union Aged Care Director Carolyn Smith said today. “Like most Australians, we express the gravest concerns and sympathies about the outbreak in aged care facilities in Victoria and support the need for the highest vigilance in protecting Australia’s most vulnerable,” Ms Smith said. “We also understand the imperative to have workers based in one centre only. “However the recent history of St Basil’s in Victoria shows that you are taking a risk when you attempt to overhaul existing staffing numbers and structures without thinking through the consequences. “The aged care system was already in crisis due to staff shortages before the pandemic hit. Now it’s extremely vulnerable to even the slightest cutbacks in staff. “You must have a back-up plan if you are forcing […]

Spotless withdraws Fair Work application, while Dandenong public health issues continue

Dandenong laundry contractor Spotless has today withdrawn its Fair Work application to cease industrial action, after workers stood up for their safety following multiple confirmed COVID-19 cases at the site. The withdrawal of this s 418 application does not solve the underlying safety and public health issues at the site but is a necessary step towards doing so. The Department of Health and Human Services have attended the workplace today but the Union has not yet been consulted by the Department. It is understood the investigation is ongoing. Workers who had been in close contact with the positive cases had previously been directed by the employer to attend work on Tuesday and Wednesday, but have now been directed to quarantine for 14 days. The Union understands Spotless will make workers use up their annual leave, personal leave or take unpaid time off work if they are not eligible for leave. […]

Turosi Golden Farms Abandons Workers during COVID-19 outbreak

Late last week Golden Farms near Geelong in Victoria recorded a positive case of COVID-19. Within the last few days, that number has increased to 10 and could continue to rise. Turosi, the owner and operator of the site, shut down the abattoir over the weekend after pressure from the United Workers Union. Their plans to reopen this week were dashed when DHHS ordered the site to close for 14 days while workers isolate. However, in a bizarre move yesterday, DHHS authorised workers who were isolating to break isolation and return to the workplace for cleaning. Turosi has refused to offer financial assistance to their workforce during the stand-down period. The company is expecting workers to dip into their own entitlements or, for casuals, be left with nothing at all. United Workers Union condemns Golden Farms for refusing to provide paid pandemic leave, a lifeline workers have been campaigning for […]

Hospital Laundry Workers need COVID-19 testing to avoid further outbreaks

The United Workers Union is calling on Spotless to stand down all workers with pay at its Dandenong laundry facility to ensure its workforce can get tested, and isolate until they get their results back. Spotless Dandenong employees are low-wage workers who get paid the Award minimum wage. A Spotless laundry employee who worked at the facility, which supplies a major Victorian private hospital, on Friday 24th July and Saturday 25th July subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. Despite 147 workers being present on shift on the Friday, and 88 workers on the Saturday, Spotless has only identified the workforce in one small section as being a close contact of the case. The Union, however, has identified that the positive employee had also been in another work area and interacted with common vectors of potential infection. So far, Spotless has refused to do any more than stand a small number of […]

JBS cold storage workers cease work over COVID-19 safety concerns

Workers at JBS in Brooklyn, in Melbourne’s outer west, have ceased work early this morning until the company can assure them they will be safe. The action is in line with the Victorian Occupational Health and Safety Act and comes after 71 positive cases connected to the JBS outbreak, The cease work comes fifteen days after the JBS was ordered to close by DHHS. During this period JBS has not responded to many of workers concerns about the safety of the site. The United Workers Union, one of the two unions who represent workers at the site, wrote to JBS asking them to explain how they will keep workers safe. The company responded by telling the union they will meet with them only after workers return to work. In a notice to the company, JBS cold storage workers told the company that “without safe systems of work and without adequate […]

Pandemic failures in aged care revealed in survey

PANDEMIC FAILURES IN AGED CARE REVEALED IN SURVEY; WORKERS FEEL ‘UNPREPARED, UNTRAINED, UNSAFE’ Shocking gaps in coronavirus preparations by aged care providers have been revealed in a new national survey of more than 1000 aged care workers. The survey also shows lockdowns and other coronavirus measures have seriously affected aged care workers and the residents they care for, with staff shortages, increased workloads and some residents not seen for whole days at a stretch. Results from the United Workers Union survey show large gaps in aged care pandemic preparations: Three in 10 residential aged care workers said they had received no additional training in coronavirus safety measures or correctly using personal protective equipment. More than two thirds of aged care workers do not feel very prepared to deal with a coronavirus outbreak. Four in 10 workers feel their aged care facility has not communicated their infection plan well. One in […]

500 Woolworths workers walk off for pay equality and secure work

MEDIA RELEASE WHEN: 5 am Friday 24 July – 5 am Saturday 25 July WHERE: 11 Warren Rd, Warnervale NSW 2259 WHAT: 500 Woolworths workers stop work for 24 hours WHO: United Workers Union spokesperson Brad Donnelly will be available on-site for comment between 5 am and 3 pm. This morning, up to five hundred Woolworths distribution workers were forced to take legal industrial action and stop work for 24 hours after the supermarket giant refused to negotiate fairly regarding workers’ pay and conditions. Workers at the Wyong distribution centre on the Central Coast of New South Wales are demanding pay parity with workers who do the exact same job, for the same company, less than two hours away in Sydney. Workers on some job levels are paid up to 16% less. Workers are also calling for an end to Woolworths’ unsafe pick rates and insecure work which leaves many worrying if they will be able […]

Border stops threaten NSW, Queensland harvests

Statement attributable to Jannette Armstrong, executive director, United Workers Union farms, regarding recent Victoria-NSW border stops and turn backs of workers on the Seasonal Worker Program: This ban is discriminatory, unfair, and unhelpful. Coronavirus does not discriminate based on citizenship or visa status, but what we’ve seen repeatedly throughout this pandemic is that Liberal governments do. The ability of workers to find further work is hampered due to the nature of the harvest trail. There is not a lot of work in Victoria at the moment. Many workers will likely be able to pick up hours when the asparagus season in Victoria comes on, but that is still many weeks away. Workers are in limbo until then, and even then won’t be guaranteed work. Meanwhile farmers in NSW and Queensland are having their anticipated labour force cut off without warning. Many migrant seasonal workers were invited to Australia, to help […]

Letter Sent to Aged Care Employers

The following letter was sent to employers on 17 July 2020:   Dear Director Re: Aged Care Retention Bonus I am writing on behalf of members who have raised concerns about the retention bonus being paid to workers in aged care. As you may be aware, the deadline for employers to apply for the retention bonus for employees has been extended from 2pm EST, Monday, July 20 to 2pm EST Friday, July 31. Request on behalf of United Workers Union members I request that you provide a response to the following questions about the retention bonus: Have you applied for the bonus for eligible employees? If you have applied for the bonus, what proportion of your employees are scheduled to receive a bonus compared to those who will not receive the bonus? When are the payments expected to be made? How will tax deductions be calculated? Can you confirm the […]

Australian workers’ plea to the Federal Government: don’t cut JobKeeper

Today the Morrison Government will announce the fate of JobKeeper and JobSeeker with even more workers set to miss out. In this second phase of the wage subsidy programs workers cannot afford to be left in the lurch with a reduced rate and even harsher eligibility. It will cost jobs, livelihoods and destroy communities. Story after story has emerged via the United Workers Union JobKeeper for All website since it was launched on July 8, 2020. Workers have been reaching out to Scott Morrison to let him know they are hurting and can’t afford to be left even further behind. The Federal Government has been forced to cave to pressure from workers and bring their announcement forward. Whilst the United Workers Union welcomes the extension of JobKeeper beyond the September cut off, the Federal Government’s plans to scale back JobKeeper and JobSeeker will make life harder for thousands of workers. […]

Australian workers’ facial recognition data available to overseas government

MEDIA RELEASE The United Workers Union has stopped the collection of facial recognition data in its tracks. A security officer working at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet building in Canberra was threatened with disciplinary action should he fail to provide “voluntary consent” to facial recognition software connected to the Singaporean Government. Robert Beverly, employed by contractor Certis Security Australia, was concerned about more than his own personal privacy. Mr Beverly has high-level security clearances and the app requires security-cleared guards to take passport-style photos in uniform, inside classified government worksites, which are then uploaded to an unclassified non-government server. “I raised these concerns with Certis, hoping that they would be taken seriously. Instead, they just ramped up the pressure to get me on the app. The operations team was calling me every shift asking me why I wasn’t using the app, even though I told them daily […]

United Workers Union welcomes Queensland wage theft bill

MEDIA RELEASE United Workers Union welcomes the State Government’s bill to criminalise wage theft. The union representing Queensland contracting workers, including security, cleaning, hospitality and more, welcome the introduction of the bill to criminalise wage theft. The Palaszczuk Government announced the amendments in March to the state Criminal Code to tackle wage theft following a Queensland Parliamentary Inquiry. United Workers Union spokesperson for Property Services Damien Davie said: “This is another step in the right direction by the Palaszczuk Labor Government. “It is good to have the details of the legislation, as any changes must ensure wage thieves are being criminally prosecuted – whether the theft is a one off or ongoing, and the individuals who are responsible held accountable. “Offences must extend to the falsification of worker records and the failure to keep worker entitlements. “United Workers Union members are frequently victims of wage theft, feeling the impact of […]

NEW COVID CASES: Victoria’s largest abattoir JBS could leave supermarket meat shelves bare

MEDIA RELEASE Workers at Victoria’s largest abattoir JBS, in Melbourne’s western suburb of Brooklyn, may be stood down without pay after the company was ordered to close its doors. Four workers tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the total to five. Workers at JBS have continued to work at a back-breaking pace to keep up with panic buying, even during the worst of the pandemic, and in return the company needs to ensure all workers are paid during the site closure, which has been brought about through no fault of their own. United Workers Union wrote to the company on Sunday 12 July, calling on them to: Share the mega profits their workers made by paying all workers pandemic leave for the duration of shutdown. Prioritise the safety of their workforce with a thorough deep clean, immediate notification of further cases and special training for worker representatives. If JBS […]

NEW COVID CASE: Melbourne Distribution Centre tells workers it’s business as usual despite confirmed COVID-19 case

MEDIA RELEASE Last night a new COVID-19 case was confirmed at the Chemist Warehouse Distribution Centre in Somerton, Melbourne that could lead to a new outbreak. The worker and only five of their colleagues have gone into isolation, despite the possibility of up to 100 staff who worked the same shift having come in contact with the confirmed case. Chemist Warehouse management wanted to continue business as usual today. However, after workers found out about the case, many have rightfully refused to work until Chemist Warehouse prioritises their safety. In response, the company has demanded workers use their own entitlements, forcing casual workers and workers with low entitlements to choose between financially supporting their family or putting their health at risk. Despite United Workers Union’s requests, Chemist Warehouse only provided limited details of the thoroughness of the clean that took place before they expected staff to continue working. Quotes attributable […]

Sixth COVID-19 case at Coles Laverton DC

Sixth COVID-19 case at Coles Laverton DC The safety of workers must be the first priority when dealing with issues at Coles Laverton Distribution Centre where workers have tested positive to COVID-19. United Workers Union has been closely monitoring the situation since the first infection occurred. The union understands there are now six workers affected by coronavirus at the distribution centre. United Workers Union met with Coles this to demand they: Place all workers at this site on paid pandemic leave for at least 2 weeks Close the site for 72 hours to allow for a deep clean Bring in a temporary workforce to handle demand until their workers are able to safely return to work – the union has offered to help find this workforce. Matt Toner, Director of Logistics, United Workers Union said: “United Workers Union will always prioritise the health and safety of our members. We have […]

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT Signed by United Workers Union & 17 other organisations   Researchers fear that COVID-19 has created a humanitarian crisis among international students and migrant workers in Australia. Service, advocacy organisations and community networks know this is true, because we are seeing it first-hand. People have lost their jobs but have been excluded from JobKeeper and JobSeeker safety nets. Students have been forced to line up around the block for their next meal. Refugees and people seeking asylum who were previously employed, are now struggling to keep food on the table for their families and a roof over their heads. Vulnerable migrants, including undocumented workers are left at risk, afraid to access medical care or government support. The ‘International Students and Wage Theft in Australia ‘ report published by researchers at the University of New South Wales and University of Technology Sydney highlights a […]

National survey shows insecure hospitality workers devastated by Covid-19

A major national survey of hospitality workers has revealed how COVID-19 ripped wide open the rotten foundations on which the hospitality industry is built, with the hospitality union vowing to use the Federal Government’s IR Working Group process to fight extreme levels of casualisation. Hospo Voice, the United Workers Union’s digital union for hospitality workers, has released data today from its nationwide #RebuildHospo Survey with 1158 hospitality workers*. The data shows insecure employment, combined with endemic wage theft, acted as a force-multiplier when the industry collapsed on 23 March 2020. United Workers Union National President Jo-anne Schofield, who sits on Christian Porter’s IR Working Group on casualisation, says it was a “national disgrace” 78 per cent of hospitality workers are casual, the highest rate for any group of workers (ABS 2019 Data**). The survey shows workers experienced extreme levels of financial distress when the pandemic forced the industry into shutdown […]

Fair Work Commission declares businesses must bargain during pandemic

MEDIA RELEASE This week the Fair Work Commission has found the pandemic, or the general or economic consequences of the pandemic, are not legitimate reasons for employers to refuse to continue workplace bargaining. United Workers Union, the union for food manufacturing workers, has won an application against one of Australia’s leading bread manufacturers Davies Bakery. The bakery makes bread, hot cross buns and other baked goods for ALDI, Woolworths and Coles. United Workers Union Food and Beverage National Director Susie Allison said: “The Fair Work Commission has ruled in favour of the United Workers Union and our members’ right to bargain and organise. “Davies Bakery has been paying substandard wages and conditions to their predominantly migrant workforce. “The workers have joined the union and are exercising their collective right to bargain for industry-level wages and conditions. Davies has tried to undermine workers’ right to bargain every step of the way. […]

NT Emergency Service Workers win PTSD protections, bill passes today

MEDIA RELEASE In a big win for the Northern Territory’s dedicated emergency service workers, paramedics and firefighters now have the right to presumptive post-traumatic stress disorder recognition. World-leading rules for occupational cancer coverage for the NT’s firefighters have also passed in the amendments to the Return to Work Act. Erina Early, United Workers Union NT spokesperson says, “From today, the Territory’s paramedics and firefighters have won the right to put their hands up to say they are struggling, without fear of any reprisal from their employers and insurers. “Our dedicated emergency services workers are regularly in extremely difficult and challenging situations. Until these new laws passed, claiming PTSD through workers compensation has been stressful and challenging for our paramedic and firefighter members, there have been too many rejected PTSD claims in the past and too often our members have been forced to relive traumatic workplace events. These changes to legislation […]

STATEMENT ON MINIMUM WAGE: Inequitable decision for low paid workers

MEDIA RELEASE  Statement from Jo-anne Schofield, National President, United Workers Union: “Many United Workers Union members are award-reliant and are impacted by today’s decision. Many United Workers Union members are cleaners, security guards, early childhood educators, food services workers, farm workers, hospitality workers and aged and home care workers. Many essential workers are also some of Australia’s lowest paid. Australia has been able to manage the public health crisis of COVID-19 because of the frontline workers we have all relied on. Countless United Workers Union members have worked during the pandemic for less than they would have received under JobKeeper – and many are supporting families on their low wage. Whilst this very modest rise will lead to some relief for the sectors eligible from 1 July, the staggered approach will lead to greater inequality across our workforces in this damaged economy. We welcome the Fair Work Commission recognising our […]

Hospitality union says jail dodgy NSW bosses

MEDIA RELEASE   With Victoria’s Parliament passing Australia’s first laws to criminalise wage theft, the national hospitality union says it will now push for the NSW Government to introduce laws to jail wage thieves. The NSW Government has shown zero interest in criminalising wage theft, angering hospitality workers across the state. This comes despite Victoria’s historic vote, and with similar legislation before parliament in Queensland. West Australia is also considering criminalising wage theft, and the Federal Government has also indicated it will introduce criminal penalties. Victoria’s new laws mean bosses who dishonestly withhold wages, super or other employee entitlements will face fines of up to $198,264 for individuals, $991,320 for companies, and up to 10 years jail. Digital union Hospo Voice, the hospitality arm of the United Workers Union, played a critical role campaigning for the Victorian laws and has today releasing a national survey of 1140 hospitality workers* showing 83 […]

Exploited temporary visa holder wins groundbreaking case

MEDIA RELEASE A temporary visa holder exploited by her boss because of her immigration status has called on other vulnerable workers to speak out after winning a court ruling against her former employer this week. United Workers Union member Ninumol Abraham was found to have been discriminated against based on her immigration status during her employment at Canberra Indian restaurant Binnys Kathitto. The ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal heard Ms Abraham was forced to work up to 70-hour weeks and had her wages mishandled through a cashback scheme. Ms Abraham, who started her job at the Canberra restaurant in January 2018, told the tribunal she was required to pay Mr Babu $100 for each day of leave she took and $511.40 in cash each fortnight for what she thought were tax requirements. When the exploitation was brought to the attention of the United Workers Union they rallied outside the popular […]

United Workers Union welcomes the passing of wage theft sentences in Victoria

MEDIA RELEASE   The stiffest wage theft sentences in the country have been passed in Victoria, a critical step in the fight against wage theft – laws that United Workers Union members have been fighting many years for. United Workers Union congratulates Premier Daniel Andrews for listening to working people and enacting this crucial reform in fighting the epidemic of wage theft. Wage thieves in Victoria now face up to 10 years jail. The laws stand up for workers who are experiencing widespread and systemic wage theft across a diverse range of industries including food and beverage production, early childhood education, security, horticulture, supermarket supply chains, hospitality and cleaning. Susie Allison, United Workers Union Victorian spokesperson says, “United Workers Union members have led the fight against wage theft and the need for tougher laws. We congratulate the Victorian Government for enacting this critical reform. Following scandal after scandal they have taken […]

Don’t just call us heroes: 15 June is International Day of Justice for Cleaners

MEDIA RELEASE   The 15th of June is International Justice Day for Cleaners. This year, on the day’s 30th anniversary, recognising the work of cleaners is more important than ever. Australia’s cleaners will join cleaners across the globe to draw attention to issues facing the workforce. Cleaners working in hospitals, schools and in our communities are stopping the spread of COVID-19. Cleaners are being called ‘heroes’ for being at the forefront of the COVID-19 crisis but they need more than just the new job title: they need personal protective equipment (PPE), decent wages, respect in the workplace and paid leave when impacted by COVID-19. Australia’s cleaners have stepped up in the crisis and have been working harder than ever. Today across the country they will be drawing attention to issues affecting the workforce during the coronavirus crisis (see actions listed below). Issues being highlighted at actions today include enhanced cleaning and […]

Which federal politician will Australian cleaners award the Golden Toilet Brush to?

MEDIA ALERT WHEN: Filming and interview opportunity 12 pm Monday 15 June 2020 on International Cleaners’ Day WHERE: On the lawns of Parliament House, Canberra WHAT: Australia’s cleaners award the 2020 Golden Toilet Brush Award to a Cabinet Minister. United Workers Union spokesperson Lyndal Ryan will be available on-site for comment. Vision: The giant three metre tall toilet brush award. Today cleaners across Australia will award the 2020 Golden Toilet Brush Award to a Cabinet Minister. This ignoble gong of shame is a dishonour bestowed by Australia’s cleaners to the company or individual who has done the least to support cleaners over the previous year. Cleaners have been working harder than ever to keep our community protected throughout the COVID-19 crisis. The United Workers Union has been highlighting the terrible situation of international students, many who are cleaners and are in crisis with widespread job losses and financial distress due to […]

Educators betrayed by JobKeeper withdrawal

MEDIA RELEASE   Early childhood educators have been betrayed by the sudden withdrawal of JobKeeper and the insecurity that brings. Thousands of educator jobs are at risk, especially for the casual workforce which makes up 25% of the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector. Education Minister Dan Tehan’s announcement has only created more confusion for the sector, doing nothing to fix the ongoing funding problems and need for reform. His plan leaves the workforce subject to another spiral of instability once fees are reintroduced. Helen Gibbons, director of early education for United Workers Union says, “Educators and their union are appalled that ECEC is the first sector to have JobKeeper removed. Just a few months ago educators were essential, now they are disposable. “This is chaotic. This is confusing. The Federal Government is making up policy for a crucial sector on the run. “The future for this feminised workforce is […]

Casino Canberra misspends JobKeeper

MEDIA RELEASE The majority of Casino Canberra workers are having to get by with JobKeeper payments. In most cases, this is significantly less than what they would normally earn. To drive the knife in further, Casino Canberra is demanding that their staff take annual leave. Staff are being bullied and tricked into using leave entitlements they have worked for so that the Casino can use the JobKeeper payments as an annual leave subsidy scheme. Today Casino Canberra workers tried to present management with a petition against using their annual leave, but management refused to come out and meet with their staff and hear their concerns. Lyndal Ryan, United Workers Union ACT State Secretary said: “Casino Canberra has made a direct choice to take advantage of workers’ confusion around their rights and what is allowed in the current climate, to try to catch them out. “The company has requested staff who […]

Tax backflip: aged care worker retention bonus insult

MEDIA RELEASE   The tax backflip on the aged care retention bonus from Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck is a broken promise to residential aged care and home care workers across Australia. On 20 March the Minister spruiked his COVID-19 ‘retention bonus’ as being $800 after tax per quarter – paid for two quarters for direct care workers and $600 after tax per quarter, for two quarters, for those who provide care in the home. The mean and tricky backflip to workers on the frontline of the COVID crisis has been shamelessly announced on the eve of a public holiday in most states. In a further disappointment for aged care workers, the Minister has also not backed down on the divisive elements in the scheme. The Minister has not backed down on the payment being pro-rated, failing to take into account that this is a part-time workforce – full-time direct care […]

Early childhood educator survey: TWO-THIRDS say families and educators at increased risk of coronavirus due to lifting attendance

MEDIA RELEASE   A national survey* of early childhood educators has revealed widespread increased safety risks and dropping standards of care and education as the number of children attending long day care rapidly goes up. More than two-thirds of respondents say that they and the centre’s families are more at risk of Covid-19 as a result of increasing attendance. Half reported having to compromise the quality of education and care daily or regularly during the pandemic. Educators need to be able to return to their primary duty of providing education and care programs. However, with the increasing attendance rates, they cannot also continue to carry out enhanced cleaning. During the period of low attendance, many of the health and hygiene practices were supported by educators deployed from other duties. United Workers Union, the early education union, says that a Federal Government support package is needed to support necessary hygiene and cleaning […]

Union submits progressive vision to Senate COVID-19 Committee

MEDIA RELEASE   Union submits progressive vision to Senate COVID-19 Committee United Workers Union has today requested the Senate Committee consider seven key recommendations to ensure essential workers of Australia are recognised with action that makes a meaningful contribution to their lives and working conditions. The Senate resolved to establish a Select Committee on COVID-19 to inquire into the Australian Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. United Workers Union National Secretary Tim Kennedy said the COVID-19 crisis has revealed and exacerbated inequalities in our communities and workplaces that require a progressive vision to ensure no worker is left behind. “United Workers Union represents 150,000 essential workers on the frontline of the COVID-19 crisis. We represent the paramedics and healthcare members taking care of you in this crisis; the warehouse, food process and farm workers who are ensuring you are fed; the early childhood educators that haven’t stopped working; the cleaners […]

Worker safety must be at the forefront of re-opening NSW hospitality

MEDIA RELEASE   The announcement by the NSW Government that 50 people will be allowed inside pubs, cafes, restaurants and clubs from 1 June 2020 is welcome news to devastated hospitality workers desperate to get back to work. But to put the best interests of these workers at the forefront, United Workers Union, the hospitality union, warns that this big step in re-opening hospitality in NSW must be done with clear safety regulations to protect the health of the public and the workers. Profits cannot be put before the safety of workers and the community. Mandatory safety training needs to be urgently implemented, alongside the provision of paid pandemic leave for hospitality workers. The NSW Government must ensure businesses register their capacity for patrons appropriate to their size and that this is being enforced. There must be zero tolerance for non-compliance of venues to health and safety regulations. United Workers Union […]

Billion-dollar company takes JobKeeper with one hand and threatens redundancies with the other

MEDIA RELEASE   Billion-dollar company takes JobKeeper with one hand and threatens redundancies with the other Bidfood, an international company and major player in the food-supply industry in Australia, have threatened staff with forced redundancies despite receiving JobKeeper. Up until now, Bidfood has been taking part in the government JobKeeper scheme for their thousands of employees. However, they have announced forced redundancy plans for over 100 staff to take effect by close of business tomorrow. In conversations with the union, Bidfood management said the forced redundancy plan is based on an “educated guess that the hospitality industry will take a while to recover and it was better for employees to be on Centrelink than to continue to be employed by the company on JobKeeper.” United Workers Union Food and Beverage National Director Susie Allison said: “Billion-dollar Bidfood is using this crisis as a cover to cut good, permanent jobs and […]

Petition launch to end Treasurer’s hidden agenda for health workers

MEDIA RELEASE   Petition launch to end Treasurer’s hidden agenda for health workers Today South Australian health care workers launched a petition to Treasurer Rob Lucas. The Treasurer refuses to roll over an agreement to uphold the current working conditions for thousands of essential health care workers. In light of the current COVID crisis, workers volunteered to roll over their workplace agreement, keeping the status quo, so they can focus on delivering services and keeping the community safe. “Lucas and the Liberal Government’s refusal to roll over the current agreement, in favour of attacking workers during a pandemic, have revealed their true agenda” said Paul Blackmore, United Workers Union Public Sector Coordinator. “The changes proposed by the government would create a pathway to cut jobs and privatise and outsource services wherever they can. “Once this happens, they will have no direct control of essential community services and workers will be […]

High risk situation on our farms: new research released on the risks for undocumented workers in COVID-19 pandemic

MEDIA RELEASE   New research released today highlights the risks for undocumented farms workers in Australia in the Covid-19 pandemic, with workers at high risk of infection. Undocumented workers in the farms sector are at risk from substandard living and work conditions, including overcrowded housing. The risks they face of detention and deportation also means that these workers are unlikely to participate in testing. These factors do jeopardize Australia’s initial successes in controlling Covid-19. United Workers Union, the farm worker union, demands urgent action to resolve this risky situation. The coronavirus crisis has put the importance of our food supplies in the spotlight. We are calling for a status resolution to enable undocumented workers to transition into a visa that enables them to work lawfully in essential industries (in the same way seasonal workers are able to). A transitional visa will assist these workers continue in their essential role of picking […]

CLEANER SURVEY: not enough time to deliver essential cleaning work during coronavirus

MEDIA RELEASE   A survey of over 500 cleaners conducted nationally last week* has revealed that 9 in 10 cleaners are having to rush essential cleaning work and 8 in 10 do not always have enough cleaning equipment during the coronavirus crisis. Despite the coronavirus crisis highlighting how important our cleaners are, many cleaners are in a constant state of worry over job security with 77% worried about losing their job and 80% worried they will lose hours. United Workers Union, the cleaners union, has released the results to launch a new campaign calling for decent wages and secure work for Australia’s cleaning workforce in the post-Covid world. The main survey findings: 91% of surveyed cleaners always, often or sometimes have to rush their work because they don’t have enough time 80% of cleaners do not have enough cleaning equipment to do a quality job 74% do not have enough personal […]

Prime Minister’s broken promise on early learning will threaten jobs

MEDIA RELEASE   The United Workers Union says the Prime Minister must keep his promise to protect the essential service of early education. With the release of the review into the Government’s policy today, the union for early childhood education and care (ECEC) is warning a premature end to the emergency ECEC funding could cost thousands of jobs and threaten the financial viability of early learning centres across Australia and threaten thousands of educators’ jobs. Helen Gibbons, the director for early childhood education at United Workers Union says, “The Prime Minister declared that early learning is an essential service in our community. An essential service that parents and the community rely on. Urgent funding was injected into the sector to save it from imminent collapse. This funding made child care free for parents but now that emergency package is under threat. “If the Prime Minister now makes a U-turn on emergency […]

Largest survey of disability workers finds poor workforce conditions

MEDIA RELEASE   Findings from a survey of more than 2300 disability workers released today shows that the current workforce conditions under the NDIS serve to undermine the capacity of the workforce to provide quality support to people with disability. Commissioned by Health Services Union (HSU), United Workers Union (UWU) and Australian Services Union (ASU), the research report by the UNSW Social Policy Research Centre highlights the lived experience of the workforce operating under the NDIS. Key findings from the report are: Many workers expressed concern about the NDIS with only just over a quarter believing it provided quality support for participants. Only 1 in 5 workers agreed the NDIS had been a positive experience for them as a worker. Working time arrangements contributed to much concern for workers, over half work less than full time across multiple jobs, most reported doing vital tasks in unpaid time and many report constant […]

Federal Government must act on aged care safety

MEDIA RELEASE   Another COVID-19 case in an aged care facility has shown the urgent need for the Federal Government to recognise and act on the serious gaps in its measures to protect the workforce and residents. United Workers Union aged care national director Carolyn Smith says, “Today’s revelation about a nurse falling ill with coronavirus in Queensland is confirmation of what every aged care worker in the country already knows: aged care is a very high-risk environment. “Aged care workers are on the frontline in this crisis and it is time the Federal Government recognised their sacrifices and addressed their concerns. “Aged care workers across the country have expressed the need for Special Paid COVID-19 leave to help them stay home if they fear they have symptoms of coronavirus. “Otherwise workers are left to gamble with their health and the health of the people they care for. “The silence from […]

Major safety concerns raised over hospitality industry re-opening

MEDIA RELEASE   In a report to State and Federal Governments, the union for hospitality workers has today raised major concerns that governments and employers would put profits before the safety of workers and the community in the re-opening of the sector. The Australian hospitality industry has been hit worse than any other by the current crisis, with an estimated 1 in 3 paid jobs lost in the month from March alone according to ABS data. Prior to COVID-19, workers in the sector faced widespread wage theft, poor safety standards, harassment and insecure jobs. United Workers Union National Secretary Tim Kennedy said the hospitality industry had an appalling track record when it came to looking after workers, and there needed to be strict measures in place as restrictions eased to ensure everyone’s safety. “Like all Australians, we want things to return to normal and for workers to be back at work […]

United Workers Union supports Dairy Levy for industry in crisis

MEDIA RELEASE   United Workers Union supports Dairy Levy for industry in crisis The union representing dairy process workers throughout Australia welcomes the call for a levy on dairy. United Workers Union supports the call for a levy on milk at supermarkets to ensure farmers and workers are paid a living wage and to enable a sustainable industry. The dairy industry is in crisis. In the recent fires 15,000,000 out of the 45,000,000 acres of prime dairy farming land has been burnt out. 5,200 head of cattle were lost in these fires and we are seeing long term multi generation farmers leave the industry in droves. We need to act now to protect the dairy industry and ensure that we have secure jobs across the supply chain. Dairy farmers have demanded Coles, Woolworths and Aldi supermarkets add up to a 40 cent per litre levy on milk to help them after […]

South Australian hospitality workers left out of JobKeeper

MEDIA RELEASE   South Australian hospitality workers left out of JobKeeper United Workers Union is calling on the South Australian Government to review its decision on JobKeeper eligibility. As it stands the wage subsidy leaves behind around 1000 South Australian Government enterprise workers who have been stood down, 850 of these are from Adelaide Venue Management.* These workers classified as ‘South Australian public corporation employees’ are ineligible for the JobKeeper wage subsidy program introduced under the Commonwealth’s coronavirus response. United Workers Union spokesperson Godfrey Moase said: “No worker should be left behind, and yet the South Australian Government is actively choosing to inflict suffering on government enterprise hospitality workers.” Last week, on May 6, Victoria’s Daniel Andrews-led government announced the introduction of a $1,500 per fortnight wage subsidy for those working in venue management. “United Workers Union calls on Premier Steven Marshall to do the same and act immediately to […]

JobKeeper fail: Survey finds 7 in 10 hospo workers miss out

MEDIA RELEASE Seven in ten surveyed hospitality workers report they won’t be getting JobKeeper. The workers are either ineligible from the Morrison Government’s Covid-19 scheme, or their employers have decided to not apply, or they report their employers have used it as an excuse to sack them. The online survey of 550 hospitality workers* by the United Workers Union hospitality arm Hospo Voice raises serious issues with the implementation of JobKeeper in the hard-hit hospitality sector. JobKeeper has failed hospitality workers, with the widespread eligibility issues leaving workers exposed to dire financial situations. Hospitality workers also reported in the survey that they are being asked to sign non-ATO documents entitling their employer to pocket some of the payment or are facing employer demands to either drastically increase or decrease hours. The survey’s main findings: 68% of workers surveyed are ineligible for JobKeeper 12% of those who are eligible say their […]

SA Treasurer attacks health care workers during COVID-19 crisis

MEDIA RELEASE   Treasurer attacks health care workers during COVID-19 crisis Public health workers at the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic are set to lose job security and working conditions, even as they work to stop the spread in South Australia. United Workers Union members are delivering meals to sick people, pushing beds to ICUs, sterilising equipment and theatres for surgery, and doing everything they can to stop the spread of this pandemic while maintaining effective health services for South Australians. United Workers Union – the union for health care workers is calling out Treasurer Rob Lucas for attempting to slash the working conditions of vital health workers at a time when they’re needed most. In light of the current crisis the public health system is facing, workers volunteered to roll over their current workplace agreement, keeping the status quo so that everyone can focus on delivering services and keeping […]

Sydney Airport staff miss out on JobKeeper

MEDIA RELEASE   Sydney Airport staff miss out on JobKeeper United Workers Union says over 1200 aviation security guards working at Sydney Airport have been told they do not qualify for JobKeeper. Certis Security Australia told workers that following discussions with the ATO they will not be eligible to receive the JobKeeper payment. Businesses with a turnover over $1 billion need to demonstrate a 50% loss of revenue. United Workers Union spokesperson for Property Services Damien Davie said: “Certis has chosen to stand down the majority of their aviation staff without pay. “These workers have been locked out of JobKeeper because of the size of the company and its profits. This decision shows Certis prioritises its profits over its people.” In a recent letter from Managing Director Tom Roche, he told workers “you can now approach Centrelink and apply for JobSeeker.” “SNP Security (a subsidiary of Certis – a company […]

Major NSW Government contractor ripping off school cleaners: court case lodged

MEDIA RELEASE   Major NSW Government contractor Broadspectrum is being taken to court by the cleaners’ union for rorting low-paid school cleaners and breaching the Fair Work Act. The case is being fought for 1600 NSW school cleaners employed by Broadspectrum (one of the state’s four school cleaning contractors). Broadspectrum is a large, wealthy, multinational privately-owned facilities management corporation with sensitive government contracts around the world. United Workers’ Union alleges in the filing in the Federal Court that Broadspectrum did not pay cleaners for some periods the appropriate loadings, paid no overtime when overtime should have been paid and deducted money from cleaners’ wages when there was no authority to do this. In addition, Broadspectrum failed to comply with the Cleaning Award’s span of hours rules – this effectively made cleaners work split shits which spanned up to 14 hours. Further, Broadspectrum did not provide for adequate breaks for shift work […]

New report highlights COVID-19 impact on disability support workers

MEDIA RELEASE   A report by the UNSW Sydney released today shares the initial experiences of the disability workforce during the COVID-19 outbreak. Commissioned by Health Services Union (HSU), United Workers Union (UWU) and Australian Services Union (ASU), the report surveyed more than 2,300 disability workers and shows how COVID-19 has massively increased the risks of working in disability services. Key findings from the report are: There is an urgent lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) being supplied to staff and clients, and many workers feel their organisation’s safety protocols have been inadequate in the context of COVID-19. There are widespread perceptions that the disability workforce is being dangerously overlooked in pandemic response, and many workers are worried about the ongoing impacts of lack of planning in their organisation and for the disability sector as a whole. Workers have been particularly worried about day programs and community access activities remaining in […]

HOSPITALITY SURVEY: 89% of casual & temporary visa hospo workers unemployed, only 5% earning enough to pay rent & food

MEDIA RELEASE   A survey* of 300 casual, temporary visa and international student hospitality workers reveals a financial crisis unfolding and the heavy toll of Federal Government refusal to provide income support. The survey reveals a shocking jobless rate among casual and migrant hospitality workers, with only 11% of participants in work, and less than 5% earning enough to meet the costs of rent and food. Workers participating in the survey by Hospo Voice, the hospitality arm of United Workers Union, said they feel ‘desperate’, ‘unwelcome’ and ‘abandoned’ by the Federal Government despite contributing to our economy and society. The workers were surviving during the coronavirus shutdown by drawing down savings, borrowing from friends and family, and deferring bills and rent. Participants reported not having any means to pay for rent and food, skipping meals, being unable to pay for medication and feeling abandoned after paying taxes. Tim Kennedy, National Secretary […]

United Workers Union welcomes COVID-19 hygiene training

MEDIA RELEASE   United Workers Union welcomes COVID-19 hygiene training United Workers Union, the Union for hospitality workers, has today welcomed the announcement of training for hospitality workers and businesses to ensure venues are safe for workers and members of the public as the State looks to life after COVID-19. Carolyn Smith, United Workers Union State Secretary, said the hospitality sector had been hit really hard over the past few months. “Hospitality workers have had their jobs and hours vanish overnight with many not eligible for the Morrison Liberal Government’s JobKeeper support given the high levels of casual and visa workers in the sector. “These workers want to get back to work, but they want to get it right to keep themselves and the public safe.” Ms Smith said the Union was ready to work with Government and Employer Groups to get the best outcome for workers and West Australians. […]

Welcome emergency support for international students in Victoria – Federal Government must now follow the lead of states and territories

MEDIA RELEASE   Welcome emergency support for international students in Victoria – Federal Government must now follow the lead of states and territories United Workers Union welcomes the announcement from the Victorian Government of emergency financial support for international students during the COVID-19 pandemic. The union has been highlighting the terrible situation of international students in crisis with widespread job losses and financial distress. Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg can no longer be inactive on these issues and must extend this assistance federally during the COVID-19 period. Tim Kennedy, United Workers Union National Secretary says, “United Workers Union takes heart from another state or territory government taking action on this issue and the Victorian government’s recognition of the contribution of international students to the state’s society and economy. No worker should be left behind in the coronavirus crisis. “The union’s international student members have been facing a dire situation, cut off […]

Welcome assistance for ACT temporary visa workers – Federal Government must now follow ACT lead

MEDIA RELEASE   Welcome assistance for ACT temporary visa workers – Federal Government must now follow ACT lead United Workers Union welcomes the announcement from the ACT Government of free medical care in the ACT public health service for temporary visa workers and international students during the COVID-19 pandemic, alongside an emergency fund to help visa workers and international students who have lost their jobs. The union has been highlighting the heartbreaking situation of migrant members in crisis and welcomes the move to provide medical and financial support to these workers. Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg must take notice of these moves in the ACT to assist workers who contribute so much to our economy and community. He must extend this assistance federally during the COVID-19 period. Ensuring free health care helps all workers, protecting public health and welfare across the board. Lyndal Ryan, United Workers Union ACT spokesperson says, “United […]

Home Care workers COVID-19 demands on Global Day of Action

MEDIA RELEASE   Home Care workers COVID-19 demands on Global Day of Action Today is the Home Care Global Day of Action. United Workers Union members are taking action and being joined by workers around the world from New Zealand, Ireland, the United States, and throughout Europe. Home care workers around the world have three keys demands. Recognition Home care workers are calling for recognition as health care professionals. The essential work of the world’s home carers needs to made visible. Home care workers do not work in a single institution; they work in people’s homes. They are often alone with many clients relying on their visit to get out of bed that day, be safely handled, washed and fed.  These workers provide the level of care and dignity required to keep people out of hospitals and nursing homes and in their own home for as long as possible. PPE Home care […]

Welcome support for Tasmanian visa workers – Federal Government must now follow Tasmania’s lead

MEDIA RELEASE   Welcome support for Tasmanian visa workers – Federal Government must now follow Tasmania’s lead United Workers Union welcomes the decision by the Tasmanian Government to provide $3 million of financial assistance to temporary migrant workers. The union’s migrant members have been facing a dire situation, cut off from Federal Government assistance and affordable healthcare during the coronavirus crisis. The union wrote to Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein last week highlighting the heartbreaking situation of migrant members in crisis and welcomes the move to provide some support to these workers – as well as recognising their importance to Tasmania’s society and economy. Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg must take notice of this move to assist workers who contribute so much to our economy and community – he can extend this assistance at a national level with the stroke of a pen. Jannette Armstrong, United Workers Union Tasmanian spokesperson says, “United […]

United Workers Union fights for benchmark pandemic leave

MEDIA RELEASE   United Workers Union fights for benchmark pandemic leave United Workers Union – the union for 150,000 Australians in a range of essential industries – is calling for workers to be supported with pandemic leave. United Workers Union, together with a number of other health Unions, have filed an application with the Fair Work Commission to have paid pandemic leave entitlements inserted into a number of federal awards relating to health workers. These measures will apply to both casual and permanent staff and be made up of two components: Where a worker is required to self-isolate, or is prevented from working by Government decree, they will receive two weeks paid leave per instance. Where a worker is infected with COVID-19, they receive an immediate credit of 20 days personal leave (so they could then take personal leave while off work due to infection). The Awards the union is […]

Security guards at Perth quarantine hotels asked to remove masks because it was ‘upsetting and intimidating guests’

MEDIA RELEASE   Security guards at Perth quarantine hotels asked to remove masks because it was ‘upsetting and intimidating guests’ United Workers Union, the security union, is hugely concerned that members working at quarantine hotels in Perth have been instructed to remove masks after site supervisors claimed it was ‘upsetting and intimidating guests’. Workers in dangerous situations must be provided with personal protective equipment (PPE) and clear health and safety information during the coronavirus crisis. Security guards and cleaners in quarantine hotels have been providing a crucial service as they put themselves at risk to keep the community safe and protected from the Covid-19 virus. Carolyn Smith, United Workers Union W.A. spokesperson says, “The union has been contacted by distressed members. Being handed a mask and then having that mask taken away when working in a high risk environment is unacceptable and reckless in the current health crisis. “Serco has […]

Aprons plastered to bar windows in silent protest at neglect of casual & migrant hospitality workers

MEDIA RELEASE   Aprons plastered to bar windows in silent protest at neglect of casual & migrant hospitality workers Jobless hospitality workers are writing their stories on aprons and sticking them to the windows of bars to protest being ignored in the Morrison Government’s Covid-19 stimulus package. The social media and awareness raising campaign was launched by digital union Hospo Voice ahead of Parliament voting on the Government’s JobKeeper package on Wednesday. Casual and migrant hospitality workers who are facing homelessness have turned to the silent protest to ramp up the pressure on the government and draw attention to their desperation. Early this morning the windows of several well-known bars in Fitzroy – a once-bustling hospitality strip – were plastered with aprons. Hospo Voice will now take the protest nationwide, with fellow hospitality workers, diners, drinkers and cafe-goers being asked to hang aprons on their letterboxes and fences and post […]

Educators catching coronavirus must spur urgent hygiene and safety guidelines for the whole ECEC sector

MEDIA RELEASE   Educators catching coronavirus must spur urgent hygiene and safety guidelines for the whole ECEC sector United Workers Union, the early childhood union, is renewing calls for centres that are failing to deliver the highest standards of hygiene and safety during the coronavirus crisis to be shut down. The call comes following alarming news for the sector, with the union being told that two educators in Sydney have been admitted to ICU for coronavirus. The union is demanding that all early education facilities across Australia follow the union’s 6 point plan for hygiene and safety – if they cannot implement this plan they should not be operating. Educators and families must feel safe during this crisis. The union’s plan includes temperature checks for children upon arrival, increased personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff, and adequate time for increased cleaning and hygiene implementation. Because early childhood educators cannot practice […]

“We Can Use This Crisis to Reconceptualize the Economy” – An interview with Tim Kennedy

MEDIA FEATURE   “We Can Use This Crisis to Reconceptualize the Economy” – An interview with Tim Kennedy Interview by Daniel Lopez – Read the full interview on Jacobin Australian workers are finally being addressed in the government’s rescue packages, but the measures go nowhere near far enough. National Secretary of the United Workers’ Union Tim Kennedy argues that the crisis offers an opportunity for genuine pushback and transformation. The United Workers Union (UWU) was formed in 2019, as a merger between United Voice and the National Union of Workers. With 150,000 members, the union organizes horticultural laborers, logistics workers, manufacturing workers, entertainment, hospitality and tourism workers, cleaners, and many others who are among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis. The UWU has a strong commitment to organizing undocumented and seasonal workers. It stands in a tradition of militancy: its predecessor unions having organized a number of successful strikes […]

Nationwide virtual picket line calls for no worker to be left behind

MEDIA RELEASE   Nationwide virtual picket line calls for no worker to be left behind   WHEN: 12pm (AEDT) TODAY, Friday 03 April 2020 WHERE: https://www.facebook.com/UnitedWorkersOz WHAT: Thousands of Australian workers from every state join together to protest the exclusion of millions of workers from government support during the COVID-19 crisis. WHO: Workers directly impacted by the exclusions are available for interview. Media Contact: 1300 898 633, [email protected]   Today the largest Australia-wide ‘virtual picket line’ is taking place. The ‘virtual picket line’ will raise awareness of how the Federal Government’s wage subsidy excludes millions of workers, and how migrant workers have been left in limbo with no guaranteed access to safe and affordable healthcare amidst the global coronavirus pandemic. The United Workers Union who represents 150,000 workers, including workers in hospitality and on farms, is taking the fight online. United Workers members will be live streaming from their front […]

No more cuts to cleaning in NSW, coronavirus boost must be permanent

MEDIA RELEASE   No more cuts to cleaning in NSW, coronavirus boost must be permanent United Workers Union, the cleaners union, welcomes the NSW Government’s increased funding to boost cleaning services in government buildings and schools during this critical time, by employing hundreds of new cleaners. Georgia Potter Butler, spokesperson for United Workers Union says, “The crucial role of cleaners has finally been recognised and boosted in government buildings, schools, TAFEs and prisons across the state. “Our clear message to the government after 8 years of cuts to cleaning budgets under the Whole of Government cleaning contract is that this increase to the workforce needs to be permanent. “The NSW community is always surprised when they find out that their local schools have had the number of cleaners and cleaning hours cut numerous times in recent years, with the pay of cleaners stripped back also. “At the beginning of this […]

Free early education and care must preserve jobs

MEDIA RELEASE   Free early education and care must preserve jobs The United Workers Union, the union for early education, welcomes today’s announcement of free access to early education and care for Australian families, but says more needs to be done to ensure jobs in the sector are preserved. Today’s announcement did not directly address how the Government plans to preserve the sector so it is still there when Australia is able to get back to work. We are also concerned at the continued failure of the Federal Government to provide further guidance on health and safety for the early education sector during the coronavirus crisis. Last week the union announced a 6 point plan for hygiene and safety including mandatory temperature checks, but the continued Government silence on these issues is worrying. Helen Gibbons, United Workers Union Early Education and Care Director says, “Yes, this announcement is welcome, but […]

Statement on JobKeeper wage subsidy

Attribute to United Workers Union National Secretary Tim Kennedy: “The Job Keeper wage subsidy will see a fortnightly payment of $1500 reimbursed to employers who keep workers on the books. “Just days ago the Government said wage subsidies were impossible. We now have a $130 billion wage subsidy. At last year’s federal election we were told raising Newstart by $75 per week was also impossible. The rate has now been doubled. “The Government is moving in the right direction because they have been pushed. But there is more work to be done to ensure all workers are included and supported to the extent that is needed. This must include all casuals, temporary visa holders and non-visa holders. “UWU continues to call for a Jobs Guarantee backed by a 100% wage guarantee and an Income Guarantee for all unemployed workers.” Watch an interview with Tim Kennedy about the Job Keeper wage […]

Sydney Airport keeps over 1000 aviation security guards on tenterhooks

MEDIA RELEASE   Sydney Airport keeps over 1000 aviation security guards on tenterhooks United Workers Union, the security workers union, says over 1000 aviation security guards working at Sydney Airport have been given no information about their ongoing employment amid COVID-19 crisis. The union was told by SNP Security (a subsidiary of Certis – a company owned by the Singapore government) that Sydney Airport Corporation hasn’t been forthcoming with details for the future of many of their 1250 guards. United Workers Union spokesperson for Property Services Damien Davie said: “Workers have been left in limbo. They’re very distressed. Each day they wait in anguish for some clarification on what their future holds.” It’s anticipated 70% of the 1250 will be stood down without pay. Certis has already stood down around a 100 guards without pay. Mr Davie said: “What we do know during these uncertain times is Certis prioritises its […]

WORKERS’ PLAN TO SURVIVE COVID-19 CRISIS: NO LAY-OFFS; INCOME GUARANTEE; TAX RELIEF AND RENT/ MORTGAGE FREEZES

As millions of workers across the country face cuts to hours and job losses, United Workers Union has today outlined an emergency plan of what working people need from the Federal Government to get through the COVID-19 crisis. The United Workers Union is calling for every person irrespective of their citizenship or visa status to receive either a Jobs Guarantee or an Emergency Income Guarantee, along with a raft of other important actions to ensure we can all get through the COVID-19 crisis together. National Secretary Tim Kennedy said: “We stand in solidarity with the entirety of the union movement in calling for a Jobs Guarantee backed by an 80 per cent wage subsidy to keep people in jobs. “We also recognise that too many Australians are underemployed, unemployed and have already been laid off. That’s why we want to see every member of our community, not otherwise supported through […]

Star and Crown casino workers’ pay protected for the next fortnight

MEDIA RELEASE   Star and Crown casino workers’ pay protected for the next fortnight The Star Entertainment Group and Crown Resorts will pay most stood down casino workers for the next two weeks. This decision comes after days of discussions with United Workers Union representatives and delegates and ensures thousands of casino workers at Star Sydney, Gold Coast and Treasury casinos as well as Crown Melbourne and Crown Perth will keep getting paid for another fortnight during the coronavirus crisis. At Star, full and part time workers will be paid based on the hours they would have worked in this period and casual workers who lost all work last week will now receive 16 hours pay for two weeks. At Crown part time payments are being based on average hours worked over a fortnight, and the casual payment will be $1000. Dario Mujkic, United Workers Union Casinos Director says, “This […]

Early childhood education and care needs urgent & tough coronavirus rules: Union releases plan

MEDIA RELEASE   Early childhood education and care needs urgent & tough coronavirus rules: Union releases plan United Workers Union, the early childhood union, says that hygiene and safety must be improved and increased in centres – or they should be shut down to protect young children and educators. The union has released a 6 point plan to provide clear and strong rules for early childhood education and care (ECEC) and urges the National Cabinet to adopt this plan when they meet tonight. The sector has been thrown into chaos from the lack of leadership from the Federal Government and can no longer wait for action. There can be no further delays on decisions to help centres continue to operate during the Covid-19 crisis. Urgent funding is needed to support centres so they can put measures in place now. Union asks include temperature checks upon arrival, increased personal protective equipment […]

Aged Care workers win two weeks of paid Covid19 leave

One of Australia’s largest Aged Care providers has agreed to pay staff two weeks of special “Covid19 leave” if they or their close family have to deal with the fallout from the coronavirus. The measures apply to both permanent and casual staff, with the payments for casuals based on their last two-week roster period. In addition, a major Western Australian Aged Care provider, Brightwater, has agreed to pay their staff during Covid19 leave. “United Workers Union wrote to Aged Care providers putting our demand for an extra two weeks paid leave for Aged Care workers, because they need their employers’ support if they are going to keep providing quality care,” Carolyn Smith, United Workers Union National Aged Care Director, said today. “It’s great to see an employers as big as Bupa and Brightwater committing to two weeks paid leave for their staff if they or their family have to self-isolate […]

Emergency national action needed to support displaced hospitality workers

United Workers Union is calling on the Federal Government to commit to an emergency rescue package to help close to a million hospitality workers left without work from the COVID-19 crisis. The union, which represents 150,000 members nationally, has today released a plan to help hospitality workers in crisis, demanding the Federal Government deliver an emergency $2500 payment for all displaced hospitality workers and a basic income payment while they are out of work of $740 per week (federal minimum wage) for at least the rest of 2020. The union’s National Secretary Tim Kennedy said the hospitality industry was in meltdown and 79 per cent of the workforce were casuals with no access to paid leave. “We are hearing horror stories daily from our members across all industries of the impacts of losing work. We know hospitality is already one of the most insecure industries, with wage theft and exploitation […]

Aged care workers must get promised funds urgently

The Federal Government has belatedly recognised the importance of an overworked and understaffed workforce in dedicating funding directly to aged carers, the United Workers Union said today. “The challenge for the Federal Government is to make sure the workers who will be running aged care in this time of crisis get the money they have been promised,” Carolyn Smith, the National Aged Care Director of United Workers Union said. “We need a fair, transparent and equitable system to deliver the funding as quickly as possible to aged carers – they need this to go straight into their pockets. “Aged carers will be on the front line of this crisis, and they need all the support they can get. “The $235 million for retention bonuses is welcome recognition of the importance of aged carers. “It must not be soaked up by the top layer or go missing in red tape.” Ms […]

Opinion: Being better starts with you, Prime Minister

OPINION: Being better starts with you, Prime Minister Written by United Workers Union National President Jo-Anne Schofield The Corona-Crisis has exposed the deep fault-lines of inequality in Australia and around the globe. Australia has 3.3 million workers in insecure work.  These are workers who live week to week, often in casual or gig-type shifts in sectors like hospitality, clubs, pubs, tourism, sport and the arts.    There’s been a lot of talk about the impact of COVID-19 on these businesses – and rightly so. Many will be forced to dramatically scale back services, or close for a period, perhaps permanently. But it is the workers in these businesses that will bear the brunt of the economic consequences of COVID-19.  Surely it’s time to talk about them. The United Workers Union is hearing daily stories of workers being treated as disposable in a downturn.  Many are losing shifts or being stood down […]

Calls for urgent action to protect Australian farm workers

The United Workers Union, the farm workers union, calls for urgent action to protect and resolve the visa status of migrant workers on Australian farms during the COVID-19 crisis. Migrant workers are being left in limbo due to the uncertainty of ever changing travel restrictions and border closures, and no guaranteed access to safe and affordable healthcare amidst the global coronavirus pandemic. They are also facing the same key issue that all insecure workers in Australia are facing: Can they afford to self-isolate? United Workers Union spokesperson Jannette Armstrong said, “Without urgent support and clarity, Australia may see tens of thousands of visa workers stranded with invalid visas, or departing the country early leaving huge holes in some of our essential workforces. “Australia’s supply of fresh produce is crucially dependent on temporary migrant workers. The labour of temporary and undocumented workers has held up the fresh produce industry in Australia […]

NSW school cleaning – years of government cost-cutting has put school communities at risk in the coronavirus outbreak

The extra funding announced by the Berejiklian Government for school cleaning is too little and too late. It does not repair eight years of cost savings and cuts to cleaning hours by this Government. This continued cost cutting has put the safety of school cleaners, students, teachers and staff at risk. The Government and the four cleaning contractors working across our schools have been deliberately driving down wages and direct cleaning hours on school grounds. This cost-cutting has been continuing during the coronavirus outbreak, creating an inexcusable and downright dangerous situation. Georgia Potter Butler, spokesperson for United Workers Union, the cleaners union, says, “Cost-cutting and cutting back of cleaning hours has been happening across the system, it has been happening in your local public school and there are still cuts proposed. “United Workers Union has concerns about the handling by the Department of Education and Public Works of the NSW […]

MONA security guards sacked during coronavirus shutdown

Contractor Coverall Security has sacked MONA security guards using the coronavirus shutdown as an excuse. United Workers Union, the security union, condemns this underhand move. Tasmanian workers need to be supported, not sacked, by their employers during the coronavirus crisis. Thomas Windsor, Managing Director and part-owner of Coverall Security has told the sacked guards that the temporary closure of MONA is the reason for them losing their job. There was no consultation with the workers or requests for the guards to use banked leave during this time. He has even told the workers not to bother fighting him. Sarah Ellis, United Workers Union Tasmania spokesperson says, “This is just a disgusting decision by Coverall Security in these uncertain times. “Thomas Windsor needs to hand back his honours from Australia Day for work supposedly advocating for mental health and depression. He doesn’t care about the mental health of the workers he […]

New aged care restrictions sensible to address coronavirus impact

New restrictions on visitors to aged care facilities represent sensible steps toward addressing the impact of coronavirus on the country’s most vulnerable citizens, United Workers Union said today. The union’s National Aged Care Director Carolyn Smith said: “Aged care workers are on the front line of this crisis and they welcome steps to keep their workplaces as protected from coronavirus as possible. “While the restrictions may be inconvenient and distressing for some families, aged care workers are extremely aware of their responsibilities to ensure appropriate infection control measures.” Ms Smith said aged care workers should be supported by their employers during the coronavirus crisis. “Aged care workers need the assurance they will be supported to meet the long-term care needs of their residents if they have to take coronavirus-related leave.” Ms Smith said the new restrictions on visits came on top of the rigorous infection control measures that were already […]

United Workers Union welcomes the country’s first wage theft laws

MEDIA RELEASE   United Workers Union welcomes the country’s first wage theft laws The United Workers Union who represent 150,000 workers, including workers in hospitality, cleaning and on farms welcomes the State Government’s new legislation that stands to be the toughest wage theft laws of any state. Today the Andrews Labor Government has introduced new laws that will see employers who deliberately underpay or don’t pay their workers face up to 10 years jail. The Wage Theft Bill 2020 will establish new criminal offences for employers who deliberately withhold wages and other employee entitlements. Tim Kennedy, National Secretary of United Workers Union, said every year, thousands of the lowest paid workers in the country experienced wage theft. For many workers in insecure work, systemic wage theft eats into hard won wages and working conditions and undermines people’s confidence in the law.  “Employers who steal from their staff need to be […]

WA hospital workers win fight against privatisation

Thousands of health workers in Western Australia have won a decade-long fight against healthcare privatisation today, with the McGowan Government announcing key Fiona Stanley Hospital services would be brought back into public hands. United Workers Union – the union for hospital support staff including cleaners, catering staff and orderlies – welcomed the winding back of Serco’s $4.3 billion hospital contract, which would deliver better jobs for more than 600 workers and better care for the community. Health worker and union member Phyllis de Gois was among thousands who stood together and spoke out against the privatisation of health services in WA.   “I am thrilled about what our campaign has achieved – it’s better for the patients, better for the public, and better all round,” she said. “The hospitals we work in belong to the community. We never want to see a government try and outsource our public health again.” […]

United Workers Union welcomes State Government legislation to make wage theft a crime

MEDIA RELEASE   United Workers Union welcomes State Government legislation to make wage theft a crime The union representing Queensland contracting workers, including security, cleaning, hospitality and more, welcomes the State Government’s new legislation to make wage theft a criminal offence. Today the Palaszczuk Government has announced amendments to the state Criminal Code to tackle wage theft following a Queensland Parliamentary Inquiry. United Workers Union spokesperson for Property Services Damien Davie said: “This is a step forward in the right direction by the Palaszczuk Labor Government. “Any changes must ensure wage thieves are being criminally prosecuted – whether the theft is a one off or ongoing, and the individuals who are responsible need to be held to account. “Offences must extend to the falsification of worker records and the failure to keep worker entitlements. “United Workers Union members are frequently victims of wage theft, feeling the impact of zombie agreements […]

Workers must be supported through coronavirus

MEDIA RELEASE   Workers must be supported through coronavirus United Workers Union – the union for 150,000 Australians in a range of essential industries – is calling for workers to be supported as concerns around coronavirus (COVID-19) escalate nationally. Union Director Carolyn Smith said now was the time for all Australians to get behind the workers who keep our communities running. “Our members’ work reaches millions of people every single day of their lives. It is working people who are on the frontline of the coronavirus threat,” Ms Smith said. “We need significant back-up and support – from employers and from Government – to deal with this global health crisis.” The union is calling for the following key commitments to be put in place immediately to ensure workers are safe and don’t lose out under this global health crisis: If workers cannot work due to coronavirus risks, they should not […]

International Women’s Day Protest at Melbourne Bakery

MEDIA RELEASE   INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY PROTEST AT MELBOURNE BAKERY Ahead of International Women’s Day this weekend, around 60 – 80 women will be taking to the streets to protest the mistreatment and exploitation faced by workers at Davies Bakery every single day. One of Australia’s leading bread manufacturers is accused of discriminating against a pregnant worker by refusing to give her a full-time position, and then cutting all her shifts after she told her manager she was pregnant in an application lodged at VCAT this morning. Rajdeep Kaur, who has worked as a casual employee at the bakery for almost 1.5 years, said, “like so many migrant workers I came to Australia for a better life. I have worked very hard at Davies Bakery, and would regularly work 6 days a week, and sometimes even 14-hour shifts. I never expected that I would be treated like this in Australia. […]

We can stamp out wage theft: workers present solutions to the Senate today

MEDIA RELEASE   We can stamp out wage theft: workers present solutions to the Senate today United Workers Union members have presented a formal submission to the Senate Inquiry into Wage Theft in Canberra today on behalf of the thousands of union members who have experienced wage theft. The workers are calling for an end to wage theft becoming the ‘new normal’ and presenting solutions to return a culture of compliance to Australian workplaces. Workers have shared shocking personal stories of wage theft in the submission. Stories include farm workers paid $8 to $12 an hour to pick tomatoes whilst being exposed to dangerous chemical spraying. One food manufacturing worker was forced to work 23 hours a day for no overtime and with the help of the union recovered $36,000 in overtime wages. A security guard working 24 hour shifts for a flat rate of pay was not paid any […]

Victorian Ambulance Agreement: Action on fair pay, safety and exposure to drugs

MEDIA RELEASE   Victorian Ambulance Agreement: Action on fair pay, safety and exposure to drugs The Ambulance Employees Australia Victoria (AEAV) has today reached in-principle agreement with Ambulance Victoria on a new enterprise agreement. Key concessions from Ambulance Victoria include commitments to address the AEAV key claims including:  Fair pay increases that keep Victorian paramedics the best paid in the country Pay parity for undervalued Ambulance Victoria employees Paramedics not being forced to work alone Introduction of best practice drug testing. Paramedic and AEAV State Councillor Brett Adie said AEAV members were pleased the Victorian Government had agreed to take action on all outstanding claims. “There is still much work to be done to ensure a safe working environment for all paramedics, especially those in rural areas,” Mr Adie said. “Ambulance Victoria has finally acknowledged the risk of environmental exposure to drugs such as ketamine and committed to working with […]

NSW school cleaners outraged by inappropriate coronavirus request to clean for Diamond Princess crew in Japan

MEDIA RELEASE   NSW school cleaners outraged by inappropriate coronavirus request to clean for Diamond Princess crew in Japan   United Workers Union is extremely concerned that NSW school cleaners employed by services giant Broadspectrum have been approached by supervisors via site visits and text messages requesting they go to Japan to clean. The approach has caused confusion with many members being told that it would be to clean ‘the coronavirus ship’ but with Broadspectrum now stating to the media that it is to clean a quarantine station for Diamond Princess crew. Text messages sent to school cleaners said: A really great opportunity has arrived. Would you like to earn some good money … all you need is a valid passport to go to Japan and clean for 6 days. Broadspectrum supervisors have not been able to inform school cleaners about the safety measures that will be put in place, […]

Win for NT emergency service workers diagnosed with PTSD

MEDIA RELEASE   Win for NT emergency service workers diagnosed with PTSD   In a big win for the Northern Territory’s dedicated emergency service workers, the Northern Territory Government has tabled amendments to the Return to Work Act. Most importantly, these amendments include presumptive post-traumatic stress disorder recognition for paramedics and fire fighters. Erina Early, United Workers Union NT spokesperson says, “This is the right thing to do for our paramedics and firefighters, and will bring about the cultural change needed in the territory’s emergency services. It will allow our paramedics and firefighters to be confident enough in putting their hands up to say they are struggling, without fear of any reprisal from their employers and insurers. “Claiming PTSD through workers compensation is stressful and challenging. For too long our paramedics and firefighters are made to feel worthless when they lodge a workers compensation claim. “The union never wants to […]

Canberra Airport must sack contractor for not paying workers affected by bushfires

MEDIA RELEASE   CANBERRA AIRPORT MUST SACK CONTRACTOR FOR NOT PAYING WORKERS AFFECTED BY BUSHFIRES United Workers Union, the security union, is calling on Canberra Airport to sack Certis Security Australia as their security contractor for not paying workers who were prevented from attending work due to the bushfires. The union says major multinational Certis Security has docked the pay of Canberra Airport staff showing an extraordinary level of disregard for the emergency circumstances being faced on the ground at the time. Workers who had tried to attend work, but were unable to due to smoke and bushfires, and workers who went home to check on properties, have been docked pay. During the bushfire crisis, acts of community spirit and kindness spread across the country. Certis Security’s actions fly in the face of this. United Workers Union spokesperson for Property Services Damien Davie said: “It is clear that Certis is […]

ACT school cleaners celebrate success of ‘backsourcing’ their jobs

School cleaners in the ACT have completed their first successful week as new employees of the ACT Government. Bringing these jobs into the public sector has been cause for celebration among school cleaners, with many having endured wage theft and indefinite job insecurity for years. Leading economist Dr Jim Stanford has applauded the move for promoting safer and fairer workplaces. Karma Dema, school cleaner of four years said she felt proud to be part of the fight, “I am feeling very proud of our efforts in fighting for staff to go back in house and while it hasn’t been easy, we never gave up. “This will mean better pay and conditions, better job security and it will be life-changing for a lot of people. This just shows how powerful it is to be in a union because when you stand together through the thick and thin you will win.” Lyndal […]

NSW medical supply workers strike for a fair go

MEDIA RELEASE NSW medical supply workers strike for a fair go Onelink workers in Sydney’s logistics hub at Yennora went on strike at 5:00am this morning. Onelink provides medical supplies such as sanitary items, IV tubing and gowns to hospitals across NSW. 70 full-time workers and 20 casual and part-time workers at Onelink will strike for 24 hours in their fight to win a fair pay offer that reflects the importance of their work. The workers have been ripped off to the tune of almost $200 a week compared to those working for the same parent company in a warehouse 10 minutes away. These workers shift essential supplies to NSW hospitals, and say they deserve to be fairly compensated for their important work. Onelink is a trading name of Symbion, owned by the EBOS group, a multi-billion dollar company who reported almost $7 billion in revenue in 2019. Despite boasting ethical […]

Krispy Kreme’s “zombie” agreement ripping off Australian factory workers

MEDIA RELEASE   Krispy Kreme’s “zombie” agreement ripping off Australian factory workers   A Krispy Kreme worker has stepped up for her colleagues across Australia, lodging official documents to have the US company’s unfair “zombie” agreement killed. United Workers Union is assisting the worker who has applied to the Fair Work Commission to terminate global donut giant Krispy Kreme’s out-dated zombie enterprise agreement, made using the Howard Government’s “WorkChoices” legislation and benefitting the wealthy US owners. In the latest scandal plaguing the food and dining sector, manufacturing workers have been locked into working for wages and conditions at Krispy Kreme  that are well below community and industry standards – and for many years. The business has taken advantage of the out-dated agreement paying these workers a flat rate that, for most hours worked, is below the Food Manufacturing Award. Workers receive no evening penalty rates for evening shifts where they […]

Fine dining disaster: Dinner by Heston worker exploitation revealed

MEDIA RELEASE   Hospo Voice, the hospitality arm of the United Workers Union, is outraged to learn from a leaked administrator’s report that Dinner by Heston stole an extraordinary $4.5 million from its workers and that when the venue first opened Crown Resorts set up the “blueprint” for how these workers were engaged. Crown has tried to distance itself from Heston Blumenthal’s Melbourne-branded venue, which is facing eviction from Crown in just over a week, leaving dozens of highly-skilled hospitality staff out of work. BRI Ferrier, Dinner by Heston’s administrators, described the venue as a “a joint venture” between Crown Melbourne and Tipsy Cake Pty Ltd, a company located in a Caribbean tax haven. Today’s revelations include that the lease to Crown is only $1 a year, the venue trades using Crown bank accounts and Crown even takes a share of profits. Crown also paid a company related to Tipsy […]

Airport workers to stop work unless protective measures against coronavirus provided

MEDIA RELEASE   United Workers Union, the security workers union, says that contractors servicing Australia’s major airports have dismissed requests from their workers to take protective measures against the coronavirus – choosing to put profits ahead of the safety of workers. Airport staff, including officers stationed at security checkpoints and facility attendants, may have no choice but to stop work, after being told they are not allowed to wear protective gear because this will make customers feel “uncomfortable”. In some cases, workers who have made a request to wear a mask have been threatened with disciplinary action. Access to basic hygiene, such as soap, has also been identified by security workers at Sydney Airport as a major cause for concern. The union says that contractor Certis Security Australia has so far failed to move on the issue. United Workers Union spokesperson for Property Services Damien Davie said: “It is appalling […]

Appalling Neglect of Aged Care Exposed in New Report

MEDIA RELEASE   The disgraceful situation facing Aged Care workers and residents in the failing Aged Care system has been highlighted once again in a report today to the Aged Care Royal Commission. New research shows Australia fares badly when compared internationally, with the highest reported level of residents in care but one of the lowest levels of spending on aged care. “The research demonstrates what United Workers Union has argued repeatedly: insufficient funding is going towards the people who provide care to Australia’s elderly,” United Workers Union Aged Care Director Carolyn Smith said today. The Flinders University research for the Aged Care Royal Commission also found overall staffing levels in aged care in Australia was lower than many other countries, stating: “Australia appears to provide lower levels of staffing overall in residential care in comparison to the USA, Denmark, New Zealand, Switzerland and Germany.” Ms Smith said: “In Australia’s […]

Union welcomes Fair Work Commission decision to maintain hairdresser penalty rates

MEDIA RELEASE   The Fair Work Commission’s decision to maintain hairdressers’ weekend penalty rates was a belated recognition of the importance of weekend rates to low-paid workers, the National President of the United Workers Union, Jo Schofield, said today. Ms Schofield welcomed the decision to support hairdressers’ penalty rates, which flies in the face of the Morrison Government’s efforts to slash penalty rates for workers in the hospitality and retail sectors in 2017. “United Workers Union members know only too well how hard it is to fight against penalty rate cuts after successfully defending penalty rates for 42,000 clubs workers last year,” Ms Schofield said. “In the hairdressers’ case the Fair Work Commission (FWC) agreed with union arguments that a cut in hairdressers’ penalty rates would cut the earnings of low-paid workers, affecting their living standards and their ability to make ends meet. “This is belated recognition by the FWC […]

Jobs must be saved at iconic Hobart pub

MEDIA RELEASE   United Workers Union members at The Republic Bar will meet on Monday afternoon to discuss their futures in the wake of news that the iconic and independent North Hobart pub has been sold. The new owner, Pub Banc Group, also owns Cargo, Jack Greene, T42 and several other Hobart establishments. The Republic Bar will formally move to their ownership in just a few weeks, on 4 February 2020. Jannette Armstrong from United Workers Union, the hospitality union, says, “It is disappointing that it appears Pub Banc has chosen not to keep on the core staff who have made The Repub the friendly, welcoming, well-patronised institution it is. United Workers Union understands that permanent staff have already been made redundant, while other casual staff have yet to hear if their employment will continue with Pub Banc. “Most Hobartians will have fond memories of big nights, great gigs, and […]

Corrections Minister must resign over assault lies

MEDIA RELEASE   The union for Correctional Officers says Corrections Minister Elise Archer must resign. Minister Archer has shown her outright incompetence by denying assaults on Officers took place. The Minister continues to deny the serious health and safety issues happening daily in her prison system. Jannette Armstrong, United Workers Union Tasmania spokesperson says, “Correctional Officers are simply staggered and offended at the incompetence and callousness in today’s comments to the media by the Minister. “To deny that assaults have taken place on Officers during the Christmas and New Year period when they are clearly documented in the Department of Justice’s official daily reports shows downright incompetence and a callous disregard for the complex issues that are spiralling out of control on her watch. “The facts are clear – Risdon Prison Complex and Hobart Reception Prison are over capacity. There was an assault on an Officer just before Christmas, an […]

Morrison Government continues aged care neglect in MYEFO

MEDIA RELEASE   The Federal Government has failed to deliver the urgent funding required to fix aged care in this year’s Mid-Year-Economic Forecast. Once again they have completely neglected to address the sector’s systemic workload and funding issues. Australians heard many harrowing stories in the Aged Care Royal Commission throughout 2019 about the effects of the chronic understaffing in aged care – like rushed and inadequate times for meals and incontinence pads being rationed. MYEFO was the opportunity for this Government to take action. United Workers Union aged care director Carolyn Smith says, “The elderly in Australia and the aged care providers who face going to the wall have seen no new commitments in today’s Mid-Year Economic Forecast. “Today the Morrison Government served up a rehash of their previous announcement on 25 November, alongside their surplus obsession. “They had promised $1.073 billion for the sector, but today’s MYEFO is far […]

Correctional Officers escalate overtime bans ahead of final court week

MEDIA RELEASE   Overtime bans by Correctional Officers will be escalated this morning. The ban will disrupt remand hearings on one of the last court sitting days before Christmas. With the Tasmania Prison Service in crisis and the Hodgman Government refusing to negotiate, Correctional Officers say they have no other option. Correctional Officers and their supporters will mark the commencement of the bans with a ‘honk off’ outside Risdon Prison this morning. Correctional Officers have rejected the Hodgman Government’s pay offer and the continued lack of action on understaffing and working conditions. The overtime bans will impact the role of the Tasmania Prison Service to facilitate its duty to the community of Tasmania. The escalation of protected industrial action comes as United Workers Union delegate and Correctional Supervisor Philip Pregnell writes to the Premier and Corrections Minister Elise Archer outlining the shocking toll of the current workplace issues on workers. […]

Aged care workers have their say: 16 workforce recommendations presented to Royal Commission

Aged care workers have presented 16 recommendations to the Aged Care Royal Commission, as the Commission commences the last week of hearings for 2019. The wide-ranging workforce reforms will achieve a best practice aged care system for workers and the elderly Australians in their care. The United Workers Union submission levels heavy criticism at the Morrison Government for their historical and ongoing irresponsible, unaccountable approach to funding for aged care. Chronic underfunding and the resulting systemic workforce issues have been the major theme to emerge in the Aged Care Royal Commission. The United Workers Union workforce submission recommends reforms to impose minimum staffing levels, overhaul funding, introduce industry bargaining and qualification requirements. Recommendations presented to the Royal Commission today include: RECOMMENDATION: the Federal Government must introduce targeted funding for the aged care workforce to ensure funding goes directly to improving the wages and working conditions of aged care workers RECOMMENDATION: […]

Correctional Officers commence overtime bans!

Correctional Officers have commenced a ban on overtime and recalls from 7:00am this morning. Officers will not accept overtime hours and will not accept a recall to duty for a shift for 24 hours starting today. The overtime and recall ban is the next step in Correctional Officers’ schedule of protected industrial action. Officers have rejected the Hodgman Government’s pay offer and the continued lack of action on understaffing and working conditions. Today’s action by members will highlight the significant personal contribution Correctional Officers make to a safer Tasmania by going above and beyond their rostered hours. Under the current staffing crisis, overtime and recalls move prisoners out of their cells and into the programs and appointments they need for rehabilitation. The 24-hour action will undoubtedly impact on out-of-cell hours, with the understaffed roster insufficient to provide safe staffing levels for operation. It may also impact programs, professional appointments and […]

Head chef cooks up union wins!

Working as a head chef is a busy job at the best of times, so when United Workers Union member Daniel Strange set about unionising his workplace in a non-unionised sector he really had his work cut out for him. After quizzing the owners of the Brisbane restaurant where he works about illegal contracting and underpayments of wages, his employer made changes  including redrafting salary contracts with a total increase of around $3000 per year plus backpay and super. They also agreed to phase out split shifts, and reduced workers’ unfair workloads from an average of 60 hours a week to 40 hours. They then adjusted employee pay levels based on the job performed, resulting in most casuals being moved to a higher level of pay. Along the way Daniel was able to unionise most of his kitchen team including the operations manager and a new chef who signed up […]

WA education department underpays 27,000 low paid cleaners, gardeners and home economic assistants

United Workers Union, the union for school cleaners, gardeners and home economic assistants have today been notified of historic underpayments of 27,000 by the Education Department stemming back to 1983. United Workers Union State Secretary Carolyn Smith said the underpayments are a serious issue that must be rectified. “These are some of the lowest paid workers, who work in environments that are often dangerous and physically demanding,” she said. “The work they do is important and is often unseen and they truly deserve every cent for the jobs they do in providing quality services to West Australian schools.” Ms Smith said members welcome the Government’s commitment to repaying workers past the 6 year legal threshold. “Members welcome the State Government’s swift response to the findings of the underpayments and support the full pay back of all workers affected – past and present. “The majority of people affected are no longer […]

Red alert – NT Ambos rally at last sitting day

Northern Territory paramedics will hold a silent rally outside the final sitting day of Parliament, calling for the Territory’s ambulance services to be transferred back to the Government. Erina Early, United Workers Union NT spokesperson says, “Today, we once again call for control of the Northern Territory’s ambulance services to be transferred to the Government. “It’s time to stop the privatisation of the NT ambulance service and we’ll be rallying outside the last sitting day demonstrating disapproval of the Government’s lack of support of our NT paramedics, patient transport and emergency medical despatchers. “United Workers Union members want to see the service back under government control in order to secure more access to training, support for staff and a better service for Territorians. “No emergency services should be privatised.”

Correctional Officers march off the job over pay and working conditions

Correctional Officers will march off the job at 3:00pm to hold a stop work meeting as the start of rolling industrial actions in the Tasmanian Prison Service to demand safer conditions for staff and inmates and suitable wages. Correctional Officers have rejected the Hodgman Government’s insulting pay offer* and the continued lack of action on understaffing and working conditions. They also condemn the Hodgman Government’s plans to introduce a lower paid level of worker into the prison system and deskill the workforce. This underhand move is a blatant attempt to force Correctional Officers to back down on their fight for a fair pay rise and improved working conditions, and is a law and order issue – lower qualified workers would not be trained in use of force and unable to restrain a prisoner in the event of an assault or an escape. Correctional Officers walked off the job in June. […]

Band aid announcement fails to address systemic aged care issues

United Workers Union welcomes the additional home care packages and training for dementia announced today. But the Morrison government’s announcement completely fails to address the systemic workload and funding issues in aged care. Workers spoke out about the huge impacts of their crushing workloads and lack of time to provide quality care in the largest ever survey of aged care workers released last month. Carolyn Smith, United Worker Union’s National Director of Aged Care says, “Today’s announcement fails to address the chronic funding needs sector-wide. “The Morrison government just continues to deal out band aids to this sector. The Royal Commission has explicitly addressed the fact that workforce is the key to providing quality care, and this announcement completely fails to provide funding for that. “Australia cannot wait for the final recommendations of the Royal Commission due this time next year for the Government to act comprehensively on the crisis […]

Cooler classrooms create safer environments and improve learning

MEDIA RELEASE   Cooler classrooms create safer environments and improve learning   Safer working environments and improved learning outcomes for students will be among the benefits of air-conditioned classrooms being rolled out in 300 more state schools across Queensland. Teacher aide and school cleaner members of United Workers Union welcomed the $50 million commitment announced by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk today. “Keeping students focused as they swelter in classrooms over the hotter months has always been a challenge,” Inala teacher aide Kim Maudsley said. “Hot classrooms are also a major health and safety issue for many students and school staff,” she said. “We welcome the Government’s commitment to ensuring safer working and learning environments in our state schools and the improved learning outcomes that will result from cooler classrooms.” United Workers Union Public Sector Director Sharron Caddie said school cleaners would also benefit from air-conditioned classrooms as they would provide an […]

Racism and bullying festers at Youfoodz Brisbane plant

MEDIA RELEASE   Racism and bullying festers at Youfoodz Brisbane plant   Brisbane based meal delivery business, Youfoodz, is using racial tactics to divide employees and keep migrant workers vulnerable says the United Workers Union (UWU). United Workers Union food & beverage spokesperson Imogen Beynon says last week’s racist video scandal is far from an isolated incident for the business, who has turned a blind eye to racially motivated attacks and systemic bullying and has allowed harassment to flourish amongst their mainly migrant workforce. “Like many migrant workers, Youfoodz workers have come to Australia to build a good life. Instead, what they found at Youfoodz is a culture of bullying, racism and extreme wage theft,” she said. “Rather than addressing the worksite’s culture of racism and bullying, the company is using it to drive productivity. “For example, while many workers get access to 10-minute breaks, Punjabi workers are often told […]

Lonsdale Street hospitality businesses fail to commit to stamping out sexual harassment and wage theft

MEDIA RELEASE   Lonsdale Street hospitality businesses fail to commit to stamping out sexual harassment and wage theft *** Lunchtime protest and launch of Respect is the Rule MIDDAY TODAY *** Hospo workers will march along Lonsdale Street today, calling for an end to sexual harassment and wage theft in hospitality. At the end of the march, workers will officially launch the Respect is the Rule campaign in Canberra. Hospo workers decided to launch the campaign following recent meetings where dozens of workers spoke about their experiences of wage theft and sexual harassment while working at venues along Lonsdale Street, including at Binny’s Kathitto and Knightsbridge (issues have been lodged with small claims & ATO). The workers elected a union delegate and decided that the first step they would take was to write to every employer on the eat strip. Hospo workers delivered a letter to every single employer on […]

Union win: Golden Farms

UNION WIN   Our Golden Farms members were gearing up to go on strike today. At the last minute, they were able to successfully negotiate a great agreement instead. This is a big win for our members. It ensures that when the company relocates, our members can choose between a secure union job at the new site, or can volunteer for an increased redundancy if the move is too far away. They also got increases of 3%, 2.75%, and 2.5% – and smashed the Company’s claim for forced public holiday work. Huge congratulations to our awesome Golden Farms delegates and members. Being prepared to take industrial action takes courage – but this shows when workers stand together, they win.  

Union win: Christmas pay saved for UTAS cleaners

MEDIA RELEASE   Sixty cleaners at University of Tasmania campuses in Hobart and Launceston have been saved from financial distress this Christmas.   Following mediation in the Fair Work Commission, cleaning contractor GJK Facility Services backed down on their attack on the cleaners’ pay over the upcoming Christmas period. GJK have agreed to pay their permanent employees their regular pay packet over the Christmas holidays and roster them on for regular shifts.   GJK Facility Services had told the permanently employed cleaners that they wouldn’t be given any work over the upcoming Christmas period, with workers to lose up to a month’s pay. The cleaners had also been told they would have no say in the weeks they would be cut from the roster across the Christmas holidays.   UTAS cleaner Anna Reay says, “When cleaners join their union and work together they can achieve anything. We are all so […]

Disability workforce must have their voices heard in Royal Commission: Adelaide forums start today

MEDIA RELEASE   United Workers Union, the union for disability services workers, welcomes the Disability Royal Commission commencing community forums in South Australia this week. Australia’s disability services workers provide essential services to some of the most vulnerable members of our society. United Workers Union urges the Royal Commission to make the voices of workers in the sector an integral part of the Royal Commission. United Workers Union members will be participating in the forums to ensure that the voices of disability care workers are heard. At the same time the Royal Commission is underway, the Federal Government cannot neglect this sector, action is needed now ensure that inadequate and restrictive NDIS pricing stops hampering the provision of quality services and decent jobs in Australia’s disability services. Jennifer Connor, United Workers Union disability support member says, “Disability workers around Australia must be given a voice in the Royal Commission proceedings. […]

National Union of Workers and United Voice officially merge to create United Workers Union

MEDIA RELEASE   On 11 November 2019, National Union of Workers and United Voice will merge to create the United Workers Union. This marks the beginning of a new union committed to standing with everyday working people and our 150,000 members in their struggle for secure jobs, decent pay and respect at work. Both unions have a long history of organising around issues of casualization, wage theft and exploitation in low paid industries. Together, United Workers Union will have coverage across major supply chains of the Australian economy, with potential membership of up to two million workers. Quotes attributable to Tim Kennedy, United Workers Union National Secretary “Today is an exciting day for 150,000 members who are the face of a modern, diverse and powerful new union. Together we will take action to win job security and decency at work.“ “We are a union committed to social justice in Australia […]

August 2, 2020

Melbourne educators could be abandoned without pay

Today Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has announced that as of Thursday, early childhood services in Melbourne will close, except for children of essential workers and vulnerable children. Workers in early childhood education have already lost access to JobKeeper, meaning tens of thousands of educators working in federally-funded long day care services across Melbourne are facing today’s announcement with no guarantee of income for at least the next 6 weeks. Early education was the first sector the Morrison Government kicked off JobKeeper. The current 25% transition payment to centres is not enough to cover the loss of income in a Stage 4 lockdown. This leaves tens of thousands of Melbourne educators at risk of being stood down without pay. United Workers Union is calling on the State and Federal Governments to immediately guarantee early childhood educators’ wages. These essential workers must be provided the same safety net offered to workers in […]
July 31, 2020

Woolworths punishes workers and community by locking out Wyong DC strikers indefinitely

Late last night Woolworths notified it’s Wyong Distribution Centre workforce, who had been forced to be on strike since last Friday, they would be locking the door indefinitely. The move comes after workers angered the company by taking legal industrial action for 24 hours on July 24, in a bid to win wage equality with workers just one hour away in Sydney. Workers chose only a short stoppage to not interrupt supply during the pandemic, clearly not a concern shared by Woolworths. The lockdown by Woolworths was already causing shortages in stores across the Central Coast in the last week, so this latest intimidation move is likely to worsen a deepening crisis for the locals who rely on the supermarket giant. Workers were ready to make a deal on Thursday, but Woolworths wasn’t interested in going even halfway towards wage equality. The company barely improved its offer, with only a […]
July 31, 2020

Spotless Dandenong shut down after laundry workers stand up for COVID safety

The Spotless Dandenong laundry has been shut down after a Department of Health and Human Services investigation into the company’s handling of three positive cases at the site. Union members took a stand for their safety and the safety of the community, refusing to go to work until the outbreak had been properly investigated. Health authorities have advised any worker who has spent more than 30 minutes at the site since July 6 is considered a close contact, who must be tested and remain in quarantine for 14 days. The site was shut down at close of business yesterday (Thursday 30 July), but workers still don’t know what entitlements they will receive. Attribute to United Workers Union Director Godfrey Moase: “Spotless was forced to act because union members took a stand. If it wasn’t for the workers, this outbreak could have been much worse. “Spotless Dandenong workers are low-wage migrant […]
July 30, 2020

Move on aged care workforce could hinder pandemic effort

Hasty moves to stop aged care workers from working in multiple aged care facilities in Queensland threaten to hinder efforts to combat the pandemic, United Workers Union Aged Care Director Carolyn Smith said today. “Like most Australians, we express the gravest concerns and sympathies about the outbreak in aged care facilities in Victoria and support the need for the highest vigilance in protecting Australia’s most vulnerable,” Ms Smith said. “We also understand the imperative to have workers based in one centre only. “However the recent history of St Basil’s in Victoria shows that you are taking a risk when you attempt to overhaul existing staffing numbers and structures without thinking through the consequences. “The aged care system was already in crisis due to staff shortages before the pandemic hit. Now it’s extremely vulnerable to even the slightest cutbacks in staff. “You must have a back-up plan if you are forcing […]
July 30, 2020

Spotless withdraws Fair Work application, while Dandenong public health issues continue

Dandenong laundry contractor Spotless has today withdrawn its Fair Work application to cease industrial action, after workers stood up for their safety following multiple confirmed COVID-19 cases at the site. The withdrawal of this s 418 application does not solve the underlying safety and public health issues at the site but is a necessary step towards doing so. The Department of Health and Human Services have attended the workplace today but the Union has not yet been consulted by the Department. It is understood the investigation is ongoing. Workers who had been in close contact with the positive cases had previously been directed by the employer to attend work on Tuesday and Wednesday, but have now been directed to quarantine for 14 days. The Union understands Spotless will make workers use up their annual leave, personal leave or take unpaid time off work if they are not eligible for leave. […]
July 29, 2020

Turosi Golden Farms Abandons Workers during COVID-19 outbreak

Late last week Golden Farms near Geelong in Victoria recorded a positive case of COVID-19. Within the last few days, that number has increased to 10 and could continue to rise. Turosi, the owner and operator of the site, shut down the abattoir over the weekend after pressure from the United Workers Union. Their plans to reopen this week were dashed when DHHS ordered the site to close for 14 days while workers isolate. However, in a bizarre move yesterday, DHHS authorised workers who were isolating to break isolation and return to the workplace for cleaning. Turosi has refused to offer financial assistance to their workforce during the stand-down period. The company is expecting workers to dip into their own entitlements or, for casuals, be left with nothing at all. United Workers Union condemns Golden Farms for refusing to provide paid pandemic leave, a lifeline workers have been campaigning for […]
July 28, 2020

Hospital Laundry Workers need COVID-19 testing to avoid further outbreaks

The United Workers Union is calling on Spotless to stand down all workers with pay at its Dandenong laundry facility to ensure its workforce can get tested, and isolate until they get their results back. Spotless Dandenong employees are low-wage workers who get paid the Award minimum wage. A Spotless laundry employee who worked at the facility, which supplies a major Victorian private hospital, on Friday 24th July and Saturday 25th July subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. Despite 147 workers being present on shift on the Friday, and 88 workers on the Saturday, Spotless has only identified the workforce in one small section as being a close contact of the case. The Union, however, has identified that the positive employee had also been in another work area and interacted with common vectors of potential infection. So far, Spotless has refused to do any more than stand a small number of […]
July 28, 2020

JBS cold storage workers cease work over COVID-19 safety concerns

Workers at JBS in Brooklyn, in Melbourne’s outer west, have ceased work early this morning until the company can assure them they will be safe. The action is in line with the Victorian Occupational Health and Safety Act and comes after 71 positive cases connected to the JBS outbreak, The cease work comes fifteen days after the JBS was ordered to close by DHHS. During this period JBS has not responded to many of workers concerns about the safety of the site. The United Workers Union, one of the two unions who represent workers at the site, wrote to JBS asking them to explain how they will keep workers safe. The company responded by telling the union they will meet with them only after workers return to work. In a notice to the company, JBS cold storage workers told the company that “without safe systems of work and without adequate […]
July 27, 2020

Pandemic failures in aged care revealed in survey

PANDEMIC FAILURES IN AGED CARE REVEALED IN SURVEY; WORKERS FEEL ‘UNPREPARED, UNTRAINED, UNSAFE’ Shocking gaps in coronavirus preparations by aged care providers have been revealed in a new national survey of more than 1000 aged care workers. The survey also shows lockdowns and other coronavirus measures have seriously affected aged care workers and the residents they care for, with staff shortages, increased workloads and some residents not seen for whole days at a stretch. Results from the United Workers Union survey show large gaps in aged care pandemic preparations: Three in 10 residential aged care workers said they had received no additional training in coronavirus safety measures or correctly using personal protective equipment. More than two thirds of aged care workers do not feel very prepared to deal with a coronavirus outbreak. Four in 10 workers feel their aged care facility has not communicated their infection plan well. One in […]
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