Covid Cover

Treasurer puts COVID-19 Frontline Workers’ Job security at peril in Enterprise Bargaining

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Under pressure from The Greens (as well as Labor and SA Best) in Parliament, Treasurer Rob Lucas refused to rule out removing current job security conditions of pandemic frontline workers in their current enterprise agreement negotiations.

For the past months the United Workers Union had argued that negotiating a new agreement under the pandemic was unnecessary and stressful and that workers at the pandemic frontline deserve the respect of a simple roll over deal for the coming year rather than the uncertainty of bargaining and potential privatisation and/or reduced pay and conditions.

Quotes attributable to Tammy Franks MLC:

“These workers have been risking their health every day to provide us these essential services, under very stressful conditions, and the Treasurer wants to strip away their work conditions and job certainty.

“Workers in SA hospitals, aged care, and disability support have been on the front-line of the COVID-19  pandemic. Without our orderlies, patient support assistants, catering attendants, sterilisation technicians, disability support workers, personal care attendants, in home support workers and cleaners our state would be stuffed right now. Rather than show a little respect and roll over that agreement for another year the Marshall Government has put on the table threats of reduced conditions, reduced pay, or increased privatisations

“It was cold comfort that in Parliament yesterday the Treasurer claimed to hold these workers in ‘high regard’. If the Marshall government holds these workers in such high regard, why then have they put on the table in these negotiations the removal of important security of employment clauses and the removal of redundancy, redeployment and retraining provisions?

“They are praising these workers publicly and espousing how essential the services they provide are, yet simultaneously are trying to strip away their job certainty and make them fight for their working conditions while these workers are flat out dealing with the impacts of the pandemic.

Background:

Bargaining for the South Australian Public Sector Wages Parity Enterprise Agreement commenced in February 2020, and the agreement is set to expire on the 30th of June.  Many workers covered by the Agreement work in essential roles in hospitals, aged care, and disability support, and have been on the front-line of the COVID pandemic working as orderlies, patient support assistants, catering attendants, sterilisation technicians, disability support workers, personal care attendants, in home support workers and cleaners. In March, the Government provided its agenda for bargaining which included changes to terms and conditions contained in the agreement, including cuts to important job security provisions.

The United Workers Union – on behalf of the workers – has asked the Government to roll over the current Agreement until next year to provide workers with certainty during the pandemic.

Media Contact: Tammy Franks – 0457 549 938