COVID-19: Transmission shows importance of workplace rights

The Council of Trade Unions says the re-emergence of Covid-19 in Auckland workplaces, including workplace transmission shows why strengthening working people’s rights needs urgent attention.

“We know from overseas experience that strong engagement from working people in their conditions of work and health and safety practices keeps Covid out” said CTU President Richard Wagstaff. “This means everyone being proactive about workplaces operating safely – and employers respecting working people when risks are identified.”

Working people should feel confident in taking the following steps:

1) Asking for the workplace Covid-19 health and safety plan and checking it is safe, including physical distancing, good hygiene facilities, provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) and training on how to use it correctly. If the plan isn’t robust or being enforced, alerting employers and health and safety representatives as soon as possible.

2) Calling their union and WorkSafe (0800 20 90 20) if issues are not fixed straight away. Report any breaches of alert level rules, including workplace breaches to the official website: https://forms.police.govt.nz/forms/covid-19-breach>

3) Ultimately everybody has the right to refuse work that is unsafe and poses an immediate risk of harm.

Unions are also calling for an urgent extension of the Covid-19 Leave subsidy to cover people with symptoms who are awaiting results or testing.

“Anybody who feels unwell must be able to stay home without worrying about their pay” Mr Wagstaff said. “We’ve seen a huge increase in the number of people going to get tested which shows New Zealanders want to do the right thing – but this means the process, including getting results can take a bit longer. The safest course of action is for the Government to expand the leave scheme as soon as possible.”

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