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Government Fails Workers, Increases COVID Risk

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Friday, 12 March 2021

Tags: COVID-19, Health, Workers Rights

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Health Spokesperson

The State Government’s failure to pay hotel quarantine staff their promised wage supplements is unfair on workers, and potentially puts the Tasmanian community at risk of COVID infection. The situation must be rectified immediately.

Multiple instances have occurred in other Australian states of hotel quarantine workers inadvertently spreading coronavirus to a second workplace.

In Budget Estimates last year, the Greens called on the Gutwein Government to provide wage supplements to staff at hotel quarantine facilities, and welcomed our suggestion being taken on board.

Wage supplements are a known necessary measure to make sure hotel quarantine staff receive an adequate income and don’t have to work a second or third job. It’s shocking to hear, three months after this program was announced, many hotel quarantine workers have not received the promised support.

The delay is unfair, and would undoubtedly have caused hard financial circumstances for workers. Without a wage supplement, workers may be forced to seek other jobs to support themselves, which raises the COVID risk for the community this program was designed to avoid in the first place.

The government’s failure to pay wage supplements for months on end is ultimately a failure to reduce known COVID transmission risks associated with hotel quarantine. 

There is no logic to treating domestic or international quarantine facilities, and staff working at them, differently. If a person is deemed to require quarantine, they are by definition a potential risk for COVID transmission. Both types of facility must be watertight.

The Premier should apologise to hotel quarantine workers for the difficulty this delay in pay has caused, and make sure they receive the backpay owed immediately. We can’t be complacent about COVID transmission risks, and staff in the hotel quarantine system are playing a crucial role in keeping our community safe