JANUARY 17, 2022 – The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union calls for urgent workplace action in response to the coalition Government’s failure to keep working people safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in a national workplace and workforce crisis, with record numbers of workers sick, isolating and unable to work.
The AMWU joined the joint union call to action led by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) today, demanding the government overturn sweeping changes to its pandemic response which have resulted in our healthcare system being overwhelmed and our supply chains grinding to a halt.
Unions have also called on employers to upgrade masks, improve ventilation and provide free rapid antigen tests (RATs) once the government’s failure to secure enough tests has been resolved. If these measures aren’t implemented AMWU members may be required under workplace health and safety rules to stop work, or ban unsafe work practices. The union will always defend members, delegates and HSRs that stand up for health and safety.
The government’s failure to secure sufficient RATs had also highlighted their failure to support local manufacturing and investment in sovereign capability so that as a nation we can have the capacity to keep our economy moving in difficult times while keeping workers, their families and communities safe.
We should already be making enough RATs in Australia to support our community and to export to our neighbours to support their response to COVID-19.
Quotes attributable to AMWU National President Andrew Dettmer:
“Last year, we were willing and able to make PPE here in Australia, but the Morrison Government sourced them from overseas. We are now only making a limited number of RATs but those that we are making locally are being immediately shipped overseas.
“Changed guidelines now require us to rely on RATs but there aren’t enough to keep our workplaces safe. The RATs we are making are being sent to the US. It’s time we had a government that properly invested in local manufacturing so we can make all the health and safety equipment that we need to get through this.
“This government’s “user-pays, let it rip” approach to the pandemic has resulted in the health system being overwhelmed and our supply chains grinding to a halt as we’re experiencing some of the highest per capita infections rates in the world.
“Once again this government has failed the Australian manufacturing industry and the Australian people.”