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Essential Hotel Quarantine Workers Betrayed by Liberals

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Wednesday, 17 March 2021

Tags: Health, COVID-19

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Health spokesperson

Hotel quarantine workers have been betrayed by Premier Peter Gutwein. He must rectify the situation immediately.

The Greens called on the government to implement a wage supplement program for hotel quarantine workers in November last year. We then welcomed the Premier’s announcement on 6 December that he would doing so.

Despite the program being announced over three months ago, many quarantine workers still haven’t received any wage supplements in their pay checks. Worse, in Parliament today the Premier revealed that when workers are finally given backpay, it will only be from 8 January – more than a month after the program was officially announced.

This is a complete betrayal of hotel quarantine workers.

The expectation was set by the Premier on 6 December that quarantine workers should not work elsewhere, to reduce the clear risk of COVID infection spreading to the wider community. The Liberals are denying workers pay for more than a month of missed employment opportunities, including the Christmas and New Year period where many casual workers take up the opportunity to work at increased pay rates.

In December, the Northern Beaches outbreak in New South Wales was in full swing, with arrivals from Greater Sydney expected to quarantine for 14 days in Tasmania. Despite their successful work - keeping the community safe during this time - quarantine workers won’t be fairly compensated for this period.

Hotel quarantine workers provide an essential service to keep our community safe. They ensure at-risk travellers remain isolated and cared for while waiting to find out if they are COVID-free.

Whether quarantine workers are at international or domestic facilities, they confront an identified higher risk of contracting COVID-19 and spreading it further.

Why is the Premier resorting to mean-spirited penny pinching, and denying these essential service workers the support they understood they’d receive? Why are many workers still waiting for any pay at all?

These are questions no Tasmanian should be asking as we continue to tackle COVID-19.

We call on the Premier to ensure all quarantine workers receive their backpay as a matter of priority, and for this pay to date from 6 December.