‘Workers are not ok’: Unions want urgent meeting with PM to discuss Omicron impact
“Australian workers are not ok at the moment.
“We have never had so many working people sick at once.
“Healthcare workers are exhausted, people are anxious and uncertain.”
The demands include the restoration of pandemic leave for workers who are close contacts of infected colleagues, rather than just household contacts.
Unions also want free rapid antigen tests for all and for the tests to be prioritised for frontline workers until supply issues are resolved, and requirements for masks at work to be at N95 or P2 standard.
“Many are losing pay while sick as they have no sick leave,” Ms McManus said.
“Others are losing hours and their jobs as businesses close or cut back in what is turning into an unofficial lockdown.”
Meanwhile, uncertainty remains on how students will be able to return safely to schools as COVID-19 cases soar.
The country’s leading medical advisory panel met on Monday to discuss the start of the 2022 school year, ahead of a national cabinet meeting on Thursday.
NSW and Victoria have backed a federal government push for a coordinated approach, with the premiers of those states meeting virtually on Monday to discuss virus-related issues including in schools.
Queensland has postponed the start of its school year by two weeks, saying the delay was needed to allow more time for students to get vaccinated before classes resume.
South Australia officials have said rapid antigen tests would be needed to help teachers keep track of the virus.
The school year starts at the end of January, roughly at the same time cases of the Omicron variant are expected to peak.