COVID-19 Update: 1 September 2021
As we’ve seen, things are moving very fast with the Public Health Orders. Last week the RTBU, working with the MUA and TWU secured an exemption for Transport Workers for the Rapid Testing deadline, with the standard COVID test put back in. Then just hours later the Government changed it’s mind and vaccinations were made mandatory for Authorised Workers who live in LGAs of concern. Some companies like QANTAS and Virgin Airlines are currently moving to implement mandatory vaccinations on their own.
This is where we are at the moment, and everything is still subject to Unions pushing for more leeway for people. It could also change at the last minute as we’ve seen.
- Vaccinations are mandatory from September 6th 2021 if you live in an LGA of concern.
- Employees who have not had a first jab by September 6th, will be paid up to 1 week- to the 13th of Sept to give them time to get vaccinated.
- After this time employees will have to take their own leave if they have not had their first vaccination shot.
- If no personal leave is available they will have to take leave without pay.
- Anyone who wants to get vaccinated but can’t get an appt should contact their employer; TfNSW has dedicated spots available for Transport Workers to get the Pfizer vaccine.
- For people with medical issues that stop them from getting a vaccination, medical evidence will be needed. It is unsure what that will be.
- It is unclear if exemptions for religious grounds will be allowed.
- It is unclear how this will affect future employment in the long term. At this stage there is no talk of losing your job if you won’t get vaccinated.
- Employees who are required to have a travel permit but cannot access the internet should carry the letter they were given by their employer confirming they are an authorised worker.
- If you don’t have a letter contact your employer ASAP to get one.
- When filling out the permit, put down the address of the Bus/Tram Depot you work at as the place you will be travelling to.
- This week TfNSW told all operators to make surgical masks mandatory in the workplace and not allow cloth masks to be worn.
- The Union is looking at the legality of this.
- For the moment, it is recommended that members comply with the instruction.
The Union is pushing for a return to Rapid testing and standard COVID testing as options. If the government was serious about fighting this pandemic, they would not abandon testing. How can you fight something when you don’t know who has it and vaccinated people can still carry the virus?
Ultimately, the decision of when to be vaccinated is a personal one, and the beliefs that underpin that decision are also personal. If the law changes and it becomes mandatory for people to get vaccinated, as is happening in certain circumstances, we will abide by that law. At the same time, we will be pushing for any law to be common sense.
In order for the Union to do it’s job effectively, we have to keep a broad view so we can protect as many people as possible. No one should be disadvantaged because the government wants to play politics with this pandemic.