COVID-19 Update: 7 September 2021
As we’ve seen, the Public Health Order has changed yet again.
Vaccination requirements delayed until Thursday September 9th 2021.
Late on Sunday September 5th the Public Health Order related to vaccination requirements for Authorised Workers from Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Concern was updated, delaying the start date until this Thursday 9 September and giving Authorised Workers more time to get vaccinated.
The updated Public Health Order now states that from Thursday 9 September people who live or stay in an LGA of concern must not leave their LGA for work unless they have:
- had at least 1 dose of a COVID-19 vaccine; or
- have made and have proof of an appointment to receive a COVID-19 vaccine on or before 19 September 2021; or
- evidence of a medical contraindication.
We do know that employers are allowed to sight the evidence but NOT to keep a copy of it.
We still don’t know if religious grounds will be considered a valid reason for exemption.
Since the deadline for mandatory vaccination has been moved, the government has abandoned the previous payment promise that extended to the 13th September. Employees will now be paid until the 9th with Personal Leave entitlements available after that date.
The Union is pro-choice. As much as we are encouraging people to get vaccinated, it remains a personal choice that each individual should have the power to make. We will continue to fight for ALL workers to be paid for any time off during the pandemic while the work exists and while companies are being paid their full contract rates.
Regarding testing, it should be noted that the government has walked away from testing as a safety measure. It has done so simply because the Dept of Health is stretched beyond capacity, not because it’s something that isn’t helpful in keeping workers safe. Instead it’s full steam ahead with mandatory vaccinations.
Being vaccinated does not stop you from getting COVID. Vaccination is not the same thing as immunisation.
Being vaccinated does not stop you from passing on COVID.
Being vaccinated does not stop you from getting sick, particularly if you have underlying health issues.
What it DOES do, is stop most people getting as sick as they might have without the vaccination, which means fewer people going to hospital which is obviously a good thing, especially given the strain on our hospital systems.
This is why the RTBU has been demanding a return to the regular COVID testing that was in place before Rapid Testing was floated as an option. Rapid testing was never supposed to be more than another layer of protection. Something to compliment the normal COVID tests, not something to replace them. The fact that the government has abandoned testing shows they have no interest in workplace safety. Effectively they are letting the virus into the workplace. How can you possibly fight COVID if you have no idea who has it? How will safety measures like deep cleaning a workplace be triggered if no one knows where the virus is?
Ultimately, the union’s priorities (not in order) are to-
a) make sure you have a job and get paid
b) protect your health and safety within the workplace
This is obviously difficult in the present circumstances but remember, TfNSW wanted to reduce work to a Sunday timetable and stand people down in March 2020 when the first wave hit. We’ve been fighting and winning behind the scenes since then and we’re not going to stop now.
We’re all waiting to see how things play out; what goes back to normal and what doesn’t. While we must be flexible in how we deal with that, we should always maintain respect for people who make choices different to ours; everyone has their own unique pressures in their lives.
Remember, the only way we’re getting through this is together.