Quotes from Michael Donovan, Victorian Secretary of the SDA - the union for retail, fast food, warehouse and online retail workers
This is an historic move.
The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association unreservedly welcomes this step by the Victorian government.
It is a case of a good and responsible government stepping up where the Commonwealth and many employers have failed to step in despite the consequences for managing the COVID-19 pandemic.
This has had implications not only for the employees and their families, but for their co-workers, the viability of the firms for which they worked and for the health of the economy more broadly.
This initiative will provide an additional incentive for casual workers to abide by the advice of health officials not to work if they suspect they may be suffering the symptons of the virus and to self-isolate until they receive the results of their tests.
It is understandable that workers who are dependent on casual shifts to put food on their family tables or pay the rent should be reluctant to stop working.
This will do much to provide these workers with the confidence they need to follow the advice of the health professionals, safeguarding their own health as well as that of their families, fellow workers and consumers.
From the beginning of the pandemic the SDA engaged with employers in the retail, fast food, warehouse and online retail sectors asking them to provide sick leave for casuals.
To their credit, some employers agreed, but many have not.
If we are to bring this pandemic to heel and provide the certainty needed to speed the recovery other governments around the nation should immediately follow Victoria’s lead.
There was a time when casuals in Victoria working regular shifts in the retail sector were entitled to paid sick leave.
It should never have been withdrawn and may well have contributed to the increasing casualisation of Australia’s workforce, a development which has not only left many lower paid workers in increasingly precarious employment, but also made suppressing the COVID-19 virus more difficult.
This move by the Andrews government is the first step towards a new industrial entitlement to pay sick leave for casuals across Australia.
Contact: Jim Middleton