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AMWU threatens strike action over 'unsafe' workplaces

The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) has called on employers to upgrade masks, improve ventilation and provide free rapid antigen tests (RATs) in response to what it calls “the government’s failure to keep working people safe during the COVID-19 pandemic."

 amwu 2021.jpeg

 The AMWU joined a 'call to action' led by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), demanding the government overturn “sweeping changes to its pandemic response which have resulted in our healthcare system being overwhelmed and our supply chains grinding to a halt...a national workplace and workforce crisis, with record numbers of workers sick, isolating and unable to work.”

Unions have called on employers to upgrade masks, improve ventilation and provide free rapid antigen tests (RATs) once enough tests are available. “If these measures aren’t implemented, AMWU members may be required under workplace health and safety rules to stop work, or ban unsafe work practices,” the AMWU said.

andrew dettmer amwu
 Supply chains are 'grinding to 
     a halt': Andrew Dettmer,
   national president, AMWU

The government’s "failure to secure sufficient RATs had also highlighted its failure to support local manufacturing," the union said.

AMWU national president Andrew Dettmer: “Last year, we were willing and able to make PPE here in Australia but the Morrison Government sourced them from overseas. We are now only making a limited number of RATs but those that we are making locally are being immediately shipped overseas.

“Changed guidelines now require us to rely on RATs but there aren’t enough to keep our workplaces safe," Dettmer said. "The RATs we are making are being sent to the US. It’s time we had a government that properly invested in local manufacturing so we can make all the health and safety equipment that we need to get through this.

“This government’s ‘user-pays, let it rip’ approach to the pandemic has resulted in the health system being overwhelmed and our supply chains grinding to a halt as we’re experiencing some of the highest per capita infections rates in the world."