MEDIA RELEASE:  Monday 16 March, 2020 

The National Executive of the Electrical Trades Union of Australia met today in Sydney, issuing strong guidelines for workers affected by the growing COVID-19 health and economic crisis. 

The union’s leading body called for urgent Federal Government leadership to assist workers impacted by the crisis, and condemned the actions of employers who have unlawfully moved to stand workers down.

“As the already-severe health and economic impacts of the virus continue to worsen, we need urgent Federal Government leadership to make sure that workers affected, directly or indirectly, are without loss of pay”, said ETU National Secretary Allen Hicks.

“At a minimum, this means paid special leave for any worker needing to self-isolate. It also means that any worker stood down by an employer should continue to receive their normal weekly wage, regardless of the nature of their employment status.

“The Government has a clear moral imperative to ensure that already-vulnerable workers in casual and precarious work arrangements aren’t left to bear the brunt of this crisis. .

“This is also an economic issue. Failing to support these workers will mean further cuts to household spending, at a time when we’re already seeing markets fall and a serious recession looming.

“And it’s a public health issue. A strategy which relies on working people forgoing income needed to support their households is a catastrophically flawed approach to virus containment. We urgently need to make self-isolation genuinely financially viable for every member of the Australian workforce.”

Amidst growing reports of workers being stood down, Mr Hicks also signalled a warning to employers around the country.

“Our union will be actively pursuing cases of employers unlawfully instituting stand downs, terminating employment, or implementing forced leave.”

The union has advised members to contact organisers if they have been stood down, terminated or placed on leave without reasonable attempts to find alternate work arrangements.

Read the ETU Guiding Principles in response to Coronavirus (COVID-19)-related employment issues

Media enquiries: ETU National Communications Coordinator – Zoe Power

0419 499 886, zoep@etuaustralia.org.au