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Issue #1918      June 8, 2020

United Workers’ Union

Union submits progressive vision to Senate COVID-19 Committee

United Workers’ Union (UWU) has requested the Senate Committee consider seven key recommendations to ensure essential workers of Australia are recognised with action that makes a meaningful contribution to their lives and working conditions.

The Senate resolved to establish a Select Committee on COVID-19 to inquire into the Australian government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

United Workers Union National Secretary Tim Kennedy said the COVID-19 crisis has revealed and exacerbated inequalities in our communities and workplaces that require a progressive vision to ensure no worker is left behind.

“United Workers Union represents 150,000 essential workers on the frontline of the COVID-19 crisis. We represent the paramedics and healthcare members taking care of you in this crisis; the warehouse, food process and farm workers who are ensuring you are fed; the early childhood educators that haven’t stopped working; the cleaners who are working harder than ever; and the aged care workers ensuring the elderly live with dignity.

“While this government has recently deemed this work essential, our members have long been undervalued and subjected to precarious working arrangements, low pay and disrespect. For our members and working people around the country, the status quo has always been unequal. Today, we welcome the opportunity to put forward recommendations that can advance a progressive alternative vision that ensures no-one is left behind as we work to rebuild our economy for everyone.

“Our recommendations are built on the premise that returning to the status-quo is folly, and will only mean we lurch into the next crisis sooner. Australia is still very lucky. The choices we make now will determine if we continue to be lucky. Together we can choose to build a vibrant and sustainable future that works for the many, not the few.”

Summary of recommendations

Provision of basic income payment of $750 per week directly payable to all workers financially impacted by COVID-19, including casuals and visa holders.

Maintain the current rate of JobSeeker at $550 per week, extend to all unemployed workers and disability support pension recipients, and permanently abolish mutual obligations.

Visa amnesty for migrant workers and universal healthcare for everyone currently in Australia, including visa holders and undocumented workers.

Universal sick leave that encompasses 20 days paid pandemic leave for all workers, irrespective of how they are classified. This specifically includes casual workers.

Ensure workers and their unions play an active role in developing COVID-19 specific OHS training and practice, with access to necessary PPE.

Bring public services back into public hands.

Invest in renewable energy generation and export infrastructure to rebuild the economy and create secure union jobs for the future.

View the Union’s full submission to the Select Committee on COVID-19 inquiry into the Australian government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic at www.unitedworkers.org.au

Next article – Educators at increased risk of CORONAVIRUS

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