NSW Government contractor condemned for denying sick leave to isolating Opera House workers

Electrical Trades Union

The NSW Government must intervene to force its contractor, Downer, to allow Opera House workers to take sick leave while they self-isolate for 14 days due to a COVID outbreak.

Around 20 Electrical Trades Union (ETU) members are isolating as close contacts after a construction worker on site tested positive for COVID-19 and have been told they must use their annual leave.

Meantime, other staff including Opera House performers, have been allowed to take sick leave as they follow NSW Government health orders.

ETU organiser Fred Barbin has condemned Downer and is urging the NSW Government to take action.

"In the middle of an unprecedented outbreak in NSW, we should be doing all we can to encourage workers to comply with the health orders and keep our community safe," Mr Barbin said.

"Denying workers sick leave and forcing them to dig into their annual leave or RDOs is the exact opposite. Through no fault of their own, these construction workers will have to cancel holidays because they have exhausted their leave.

"At the same time, Opera Australia is doing the right thing by paying pandemic leave to hundreds of performers who are isolating due to the same COVID-19 incident.

"Downer's actions punishes workers who were sent home on the orders of NSW Health for the protection of the community.

"Our Downer members are long-term employees who should be able to access their accumulated sick leave in this health emergency.

"Instead the company is using the COVID crisis to claw back annual leave that will be lost to workers and their families.

"What a cynical and heartless move by a major contractor on a government-funded contract.

"The NSW Government must take a stand and ensure Downer sets the right example for all companies across NSW."

Nick Lucchinelli 0422 229 032

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