Union News

OHS Live Show - Workplace bullying

OHS Reps Live Show is back! Join Bridget from Trades Hall and Dr Carlo Caponecchia next Wednesday the 15th September at 7pm on the We Are Union: OHS Reps Facebook page for a discussion on workplace bullying and how HSRs can use their powers to address it.

Dr Caponecchia is a senior lecturer and researcher at UNSW with expertise in safety and human factors, particularly psychosocial hazards at work.  He is also the current president of the International Association on Workplace Bullying and Harassment. As always, we'll be taking questions LIVE so mark your calendars and bring your questions.

When: Wednesday September 15, 7pm sharp  
Where: We Are Union: OHS Reps FB page 
Duration: one hour

Coronavirus Update

Victoria: The number of new infections reported on Wednesday September 8 was 221.  The number of active cases: 1,920 (120 are in hospital, 33 in ICU - 15 on ventilators).  Of those in ICU, none had been vaccinated - this underlines why it is crucial to get vaccinated as soon as possible. The efforts to vaccinate as many Victorians as possible has continued to gain pace, with the current rate in Victoria at  38.3 per cent fully vaccinated, and 61.59 per cent partially vaccinated. There have now been 823 COVID-related deaths in Victoria. 

By this week more than 1000 exposure sites had been listed. It is crucial to keep up with these, and comply with the directions (eg to isolate and get tested). Go to this Victorian government page.

In news from around Australia:

  • NSW: the state has continued to have the highest numbers of new community infections since coronavirus first arrived in Australia. Over the past week, the numbers have been over 1000 daily. There were 1,480 new community infections in the state in the 24 hours before Wednesday morning, and nine deaths.   There have been a total of 138 deaths since the beginning of this outbreak. There were 21,216 active COVID-19 cases; and 1,136  cases admitted to hospital, with 194 people in intensive care, 78 of whom require ventilation
  • ACT: the territory is also in lockdown until at least September 17. On Wednesday there were 20 new cases recorded. 

As at September 8, Australia has had a total of 66,317 cases of coronavirus diagnosed (55,111 last week). There have been 1063 COVID-19 related deaths. 

Worldwide: as at September 8, there had been 222,737,866 infections (last week it was 218,540,994). The total number of COVID-related deaths around the world is now 4,599,534. (Note these figures are updated constantly - check the Worldometer website for latest figures and trends). Read more information on Coronavirus   

Vaccinations update

According to the ABC Vaccine tracker 39.02 per cent of Australians are now vaccinated (63.82 per cent have received one dose). This is a great improvement - we are slowly creeping up the OECD ranking and according to The Guardian, we are back to 34/38, so there is still a long way to go.  It came out this week that the Federal government, without consulting with or even informing other state governments, had diverted extra Pfizer doses to NSW. Premier Daniel Andrews has requested that Victoria get the vaccines it should have received, as we clearly have the need.

It is increasingly important that everyone who is eligible be vaccinated as soon as possible. If HSRs are interested in working with their employer to organise vaccinations for a group of workers, the government has set up a system to register interest - click here.

Vaccinations and young people webinar
In Victoria, everyone over the age of 16 is now eligible to get a vaccine. The Victorian Department of Health is hosting a webinar for people aged 16-30 to answer all of your COVID-19 vaccination-related questions, including: what's the difference between the vaccines? How effective are they? How long will they last?

Participants will be able to put questions to the panel, but due to audience size, the questions must be submitted upon registration. If you are unable to attend your nominated session a recording will be shared post event to those who register. 

When: Tuesday, 14 September 2021. 6.00 pm – 7.00 pm AEST
Cost: The event is completely free and you can register online here via Eventbrite.

And remember: check out the VTHC's guide to help you navigate challenging conversations about vaccines and help address some of your workmates' concerns. It's free! Get your copy of Talkin' 'bout My Vaccination  

Ask Renata  

Hello Renata,

I'm the HSR and I am concerned that my employer is not complying with our registered CovidSafe plan. I do not believe I can wait two weeks to consult and then issue a PIN, as I believe this non-compliance poses an immediate risk to the members of my DWG. I need information on how to issue a Ceasework. 

I agree with you that using the PIN process is not adequate for this as your DWG members are being put at risk now. 

For information on how to issue a Ceasework, as well as a proforma you can fill out to assist you, go to this page on the website: Resolution of Issues. If you do issue one, and if the employer does not agree and take immediate action, WorkSafe will come out to check the reason for the Ceasework and the compliance with the CovidSafe plan. If there is an issue, refer the inspector to the advice from the State government that WorkSafe can check compliance (see below). 

The other alternative would be to use the processes the state government has set up. The government has been very clear that workplaces must have plans in place and must abide by them. The following is from the Victorian government webpages:

Report COVID-19 Breaches
To report a suspected breach of public health restrictions, such as isolation, mass gathering or business breaches, contact the Police Assistance Line on 131 444 or click here to report online.  

Authorised officers under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 and WorkSafe may undertake site inspections to ensure employers are operating with a COVIDSafe Plan and are complying with COVIDSafe practices.

Scroll down on this page on CovidSafe plans for more information.  

Please remember if you have any OHS related queries, then send them in via our Ask Renata facility on the website.   

VTHC Migrant Workers Centre Survey

Have you completed the  Migrant Workers Centre research survey? Anyone who has ever stayed on a visa in Australia should complete the survey and let us know how it has impacted your life. 

The MWC is collecting responses from anyone who has ever stayed on a visa in Australia to inform its policy recommendations and most importantly, help drive its campaign for pathways to permanency. Further, the Centre has been able to provide real assistance to some who have completed the survey. All responses are confidential. Take the survey now 

International union news

Qatar: Decade of migrant deaths go unexplained

Amnesty International has said World Cup host Qatar has failed to investigate the deaths of thousands of migrant workers in the past decade. The majority of migrant worker deaths in Qatar are attributed to “natural causes”, cardiac or respiratory failure: classifications the human rights organisation said are “meaningless” if the underlying cause of death goes unexplained. “In a well-resourced health system, it should be possible to identify the exact cause of death in all but 1 per cent of cases,” Amnesty’s report said.

Qatar’s World Cup organising committee has reported 38 worker deaths on World Cup construction projects, of which 35 have been classified as “non-work-related”. However, Amnesty believes nearly half of these deaths have not been properly investigated or explained. “When relatively young and healthy men die suddenly after working long hours in extreme heat, it raises serious questions about the safety of working conditions in Qatar,” said Steve Cockburn, Amnesty’s head of economic and social justice. “In failing to investigate the underlying causes of migrant workers’ deaths, the Qatari authorities are ignoring warning signs which could, if addressed, save lives. This is a violation of the right to life.”

The findings come as Qatar and the sport’s global governing body Fifa face growing pressure from footballers and national football associations to protect workers’ rights with just over a year to go until the World Cup begins. In February the Guardian revealed that more than 6,500 migrant workers from South Asia had died in Qatar in the past decade. Read more: Amnesty International news release and report, In the prime of their lives [pdf], August 2021. The Guardian.  Source: Risks 1012

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