TWU & ARTIO welcome NSW government transport worker exemption

Transport Workers' Union

TWU NSW and ARTIO NSW have welcomed an exemption for transport workers permitting them to leave the Fairfield, Liverpool and Canterbury-Bankstown LGAs for work and call on the NSW Government to provide clear advice to workers, employers and those enforcing new restrictions.

The TWU and ARTIO also call on the NSW Premier to announce that this exemption will apply to future snap rule changes which cause undue confusion and stress.

The TWU and ARTIO wrote to the NSW Premier yesterday to demand an exemption for transport workers to ensure NSW communities are not cut off from essential supplies like food and medicine, passenger transport and waste removal services.

Overnight, the NSW Government updated advice on their website including a list of ‘authorised workers’ permitted to go to work, which includes freight, logistics, courier and delivery workers, bus drivers, waste workers and airport workers. Taxi and rideshare drivers have not been granted the exemption.

Major bus depots which service the Inner West and regional bus routes are inside and just outside of the Fairfield LGA. According to the 2016 census, more than 20,000 transport workers live in the Fairfield, Liverpool and Canterbury-Bankstown LGAs.

TWU NSW Branch Secretary Richard Olsen welcomed the exemption but said future stress and confusion must be avoided.

“The exemption will come as a relief to the more than 20,000 transport workers in South-West Sydney who yesterday believed they would not be able to go to work. We commend the NSW Government for responding quickly to our calls for an exemption, however the advice to workers and operators is still far too sluggish.

“Transport workers have kept this country moving throughout the pandemic. They are exhausted but continue to work hard every day because they know how important their work is for our communities. They shouldn’t be stressed out by confusion and chaos. The NSW Government must provide clear advice, consult with key industries like transport before making snap decisions and announce that this exemption will stand for any future lockdown measures,” he said.

ARTIO NSW Secretary Laurie D’Apice said clear advice must be urgently provided to the industry.

“We’re pleased a full exemption has been granted, but transport businesses need more clarity than an updated webpage. The extreme demand in the transport industry cannot withstand mixed messages that cause delays and frustration. Transport is an industry which operates 24/7. Setbacks only damage businesses and the economy and prevent workers from performing their essential duties,” he said.

The NSW Government website has been updated to read: “If you live in the Fairfield, Liverpool, or Canterbury-Bankstown local government areas you cannot leave the local government area that you live in for work unless you are an authorised worker.”

The TWU is seeking further discussion with the NSW Government on the need for taxi and rideshare drivers to be included in the exemption.

Click here for the TWU and ARTIO’s letter.

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