Following the announcement of more lockdown restrictions in late May, we have been ensuring all our members have the latest information about restrictions and exposure sites. We have been actively engaging with the Victorian Government and employers to advocate for retail, fast food and warehousing workers.
For members in retail stores that were forced to close, the lockdown presented a threat to their take-home pay. We wrote to employers urging them to continue paying staff - including casual workers - through the lockdown. While some employers like Bras N Things, IKEA, and Best & Less did pay their workers, many companies would not or could not do the right thing.
Members in stores that remained open faced another round of irrational panic buying and abusive behaviour - particularly in supermarkets. The risk of customer abuse and violence increased when the Victorian Government introduced mandatory QR check in at all retail sites.
While we undersand that this requirement is important for contact tracing, we reached out to the Premier’s Office to ensure that the responsibility for enforcing the QR check in was with retailers, not our members. The Premier’s Office confirmed that there were no legal or financial consequences for our members in the enforcement of the requirement. We then contacted employers to ensure they understood our position that it was their responsibility as a business to enforce the check in requirement, not the responsibility of their workers.
As an additional step, we purchased ads on radio, catch-up TV and social media to remind customers that no one deserves a serve for just doing their job.
We have also written to employers urging them to provide all workers with additional paid leave to receive their COVID-19 vaccinations. It is important that no worker has to choose between receiving their vaccinations and getting paid. At the time of writing Kmart, Target, Bunnings, Officeworks and the Woolworths Group are providing additional paid vaccination leave for workers.