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, Golden Farms must back down on their continued refusal to provide paid pandemic leave to all workers.
In effect, this refusal could force casual workers and workers with little or no entitlements to attend work, as they can’t afford to stay at home when concerned about their health.
Quotes attributable to United Workers Union Director of Food and Beverage Susie Allison:
“We extend our deepest sympathies to all of our member’s family, friends and colleagues. He will not be forgotten by his fellow union members.
“While the cause of death at this stage has not been confirmed, it appears likely he could have died as a result of having COVID-19. With over 40 cases at the site, it also appears likely he could have contracted the virus at work.
“If this is the case, the Union will be seeking justice and working with the family.
“This case highlights the absolute gravity of the current situation facing essential food workers. It is tragic that workers could contract this deadly virus simply because they have turned up to work to feed our communities.
“Food workers across the country are putting their own lives and their family lives at risk by attending work to ensure our supermarkets remain stocked. Every measure must be taken to ensure their safety. In particular, workers must be provided with readily accessible paid pandemic leave so they are not forced to choose between keeping their workmates safe and no income or digging into sparse leave entitlements.”
Golden Farms shut down for two weeks on July 28 after 10 employees tested positive for COVID-19. United Workers Union has called on Golden Farms to provide paid pandemic leave to the workers they stood down.