Urgent action needed to better protect finance workers and their families

The Finance Sector Union (FSU) supports ACTU demands for new Covid-safe plans from all employers; free Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) for the wider community and action to ban unsafe work.

Union leaders at an emergency meeting have discussed the ongoing health and economic crisis caused by the rapid spread of Omicron and the devastating impact the latest Covid wave is having on the health and incomes of working people.

All unions expressed their solidarity, respect, and deep gratitude to Australia’s health care workers for the dedicated care they are providing for those afflicted by Covid-19. It is clear that our health care professionals are exhausted and feel abandoned by Governments which have encouraged “let it rip” policies.

The FSU affirms the ACTU’s position that all employers have an obligation to keep workers safe. This will require each workplace to undertake a new risk assessment for Omicron in consultation with workers and their health and safety representatives.

New measures are urgently needed to ensure safety at work.

When employees are unable to work from home, the provision of free Rapid Antigen Tests will be necessary once supply constraints are resolved, alongside upgraded masks and improved ventilation.

It is essential that the Federal Government provide free RATs for the whole community to limit the spread of Covid-19 and ensure the entire community is safe, not just essential workers.

The failure of the Federal Government to act puts us all in harms’ way. We are calling on the community to join us and demand the Federal Government reverse its decision to rely on the retail sale of RATs.

The union movement will work directly with the community to demand all members of the Federal Government be held accountable for the Prime Minister’s inaction.

Ms Angrisano said at a major bank branch in NSW recently, the branch was closed due to positive cases among staff. Those who did not test positive but were considered close contacts were sent to relieve at another branch, where there was a subsequent outbreak. Staff from the second branch were sent to a third branch to relieve but one of those staff developed Covid. A better course of action would have been to send close contacts home.

Quotes attributable to Finance Sector Union National Secretary Julia Angrisano:

“I am very concerned for our members and all front-line bank workers. Bank staff are essential workers but once again they are not being provided with the tools to do their jobs safely”.

“Members are currently dealing with a high number of aggressive customers which is placing undue stress on them. This is compounded by still having to meet their sales targets. The health and safety of staff must come first, not business targets”.

“The FSU is working with employers to ensure all staff and their families have the opportunity to be vaccinated and receive boosters and the required PPE to do their jobs and continue to service the public.”

“The FSU has written to all employers in the finance sector about the need to protect workers. Employers have told us they want to implement rapid antigen testing for staff but have been unable to secure supply of the test kits.”

“They simply cannot get hold of them to distribute to workers. RATS are an effective and high-order control measure that we want available to all workers in every workplace.

“Employers should be providing workers with better quality face masks such as N95 masks which provide greater protection.”

“The Morrison Government has failed in its core responsibility to keep Australians safe. It has failed to provide sufficient Rapid Antigen Tests which has put workers and their families at risk and compromises the essential supply chains our community relies on.”

“The Morrison Government needs to stop dithering and take action on these important workplace issues now.”

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