The Berejiklian government is being urged to intervene and employ NSW’S contact tracers directly, with hundreds of the disease detectives uncertain about their ongoing work.
The Public Service Association is warning NSW’s contact tracers, many of whom are stood down aviation workers, may soon walk after more than a year of insecure work and growing rostering chaos.
While some contact tracers are employed directly by the Ministry of Health, many who do the follow up calls, including advising people of a close contact, advising on changing restrictions, and following up that people are following isolation orders, have been employed for more than a year through ad-hoc labour hire arrangements.
“Insecure work and pandemics just don’t mix,” said assistant secretary of the PSA, Troy Wright. “Labourhire means insecure conditions for workers, poor value for taxpayers, and puts the entire contact tracing system at risk.
“COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere, we need to make contact tracers permanent employees so that they’ll be there when we need them. The government needs to be retaining these skilled workers
Recently the union has heard of rising absenteeism, increased turnover, and plummeting morale as management refuses to provide certainty around shifts or ongoing work.
“NSW’s gold standard contact tracing system is at risk because the government refuses to offer any job security.
“These people have a tough enough job as it is. They’re the ones on the end of the phone telling someone Christmas is cancelled or that they may have unknowingly exposed loved ones. They don’t deserve the added stress of knowing that if they speak up about conditions they’ll be shown the door.”