The health and safety of hospitality workers is being put at risk as cafes and restaurants re-open, according to unions.
The United Workers Union has released a position paper, warning both state and federal governments of the potential danger.
Health and safety of hospitality workers must come first
Cafes and restaurants across Queensland can re-open to 10 patrons in addition to social distancing measures from Friday.
United Workers Union national secretary Tim Kennedy says the hospitality industry has an appalling record when it comes to worker’s welfare.
“Like all Australians, we want things to return to normal and for workers to be back at work as soon as possible.
“But the top priority as things re-open must be safety.
“We have very real concerns that the federal government and state governments have tunnel vision in the re-opening efforts, and are going to put profits before safety.
“That’s why hospitality workers need a seat at the table and a clear set of standards upheld to ensure the entire community can have confidence the industry can re-open safely.”
Union calls for training
The union has proposed paid training for staff to operate in a COVID-19 environment, among other measures.
- universal sick leave for all workers including casual,
- and authorisation for union members to notify state governments of non-compliance through appropriate reporting mechanisms.
“We are calling on governments to implement mandatory training for all hospitality staff prior to any venue re-opening; the provision of paid pandemic leave for all hospitality workers; and a zero-tolerance approach to any employer who does not comply,” Kennedy said.
Employers have legal obligation to make workplaces safe
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan from My Private Union says essential workers are most at risk, but always the lowest paid.
“We all can’t wait to head down to the local cafe or restaurant and get back to normal life,” he said.
“However, employers have a legal obligation to ensure they provide a safe workplace for their employees.”