Quotes from Gerard Dwyer, National Secretary the SDA, the union for retail, fast food, warehouse and online retail workers
The SDA welcomes the decision of the Prime Minister and the NSW Premier to extend and enhance payments to workers who have had their hours reduced or lost jobs as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown.
It would help if there were greater clarity over exactly who is entitled to these payments.
The union also welcomes the business support payment announced today which should encourage businesses to remain connected with their staff – an essential step to ensuring the speedier return of economic activity once the lockdown is over.
These steps should already have been in place before the start of this lockdown and should apply from the start of any lockdown.
They should have applied in the recent Victorian lockdown rather than waiting for a lockdown to be forced on another state.
But, better late than never.
There is now no excuse for retail workers in NSW NOT to receive priority vaccinations especially as the NSW government will not restrict the retail sector to essential services.
It is important that teachers in the three LGAs worst affected by COVID to be given priority access to vaccines, but so should retail workers so they can work in safety and ensure the broader community has less chance of contracting the virus.
Analysis by the SDA of NSW Health data reveals that fully 90 percent of exposure sites in the three LGAs are in shops or shopping centres.
While shops can remain open, retail workers are at extreme risk of contracting COVID, not only risking the health of themselves and their families, but also leaving the broader community more vulnerable.
That also means getting on top of the current outbreak will take longer, extending the lockdown further than otherwise would be the case, inhibiting the return of economic activity to normal in the largest population centre in the country.
Priority vaccination for retail workers is not only essential to protect their health, but to ensure the health and prosperity of the broader community.
Media Contact: Jim Middleton 0418 627 066