The NSW Government, NSW Health and the Federal Government must do more to support the essential workers keeping the state running. Workers and their communities need greater protection from COVID risks and more economic support.
Here’s our 8-point plan to support NSW essential workers:
The NSW Government must:
1. Introduce paid isolation leave for workers who need to isolate while waiting for a COVID test result. Making paid isolation leave available to all workers would reduce the risk of COVID transmission in workplaces and ensure that no worker loses out on entitlements while doing the right thing and isolating. No one should have to choose between following health advice and putting food on the table.
2. Increase rental and mortgage assistance for tenants and homeowners. Require banks to automatically negotiate requests for mortgage payment deferrals or write-downs and prohibit banks from repossessing primary residences. Extend the eviction moratorium beyond 11 September and enforce landlords writing down rent.
3. Prohibit energy providers from cutting off utilities to those unable to pay their bills. Provide a supplement payment for essential utilities including energy, water, telephone and internet and ban providers from cutting off access.
NSW Health must:
4. Set up a Workers' Emergency Hotline. This is a number that workers could call for advice when there are COVID outbreaks or risks on site, with assistance available in a range of languages.
5. Create a Workplace Transmission Committee. The committee would involve workers, unions and SafeWork NSW in identifying and reducing transmission threats in workplaces.
The Federal Government must:
6. Introduce a revised JobKeeper-style payment. The revised support package should include all casual and labour-hire workers and previously excluded sectors. It should have enforceable mechanisms to prevent layoffs by companies that receive the payments, to prevent mass unemployment.
7. Include paid vaccination leave in the National Employment Standards. Paid leave will incentivise vaccination and ensure no one loses pay when taking the time to get a shot.
8. Raise the rate of JobSeeker and Youth Allowance to $600 a week. Welfare payments should be raised above the poverty line. No one should be forced to live in poverty while they’re relying on welfare or looking for work.