This update follows the events on the streets of Melbourne this week and the attack on the CFMMEU office. The violence is condemned, and we stand in solidarity with the CFMMEU and other unions such as the nurses and ambos unions who have called for common sense and voices of reason to prevail.
The unions of healthcare workers tell us their members are “exhausted and frustrated as they watch protesters fight for their right to overwhelm our health system”, and through it all those workers “wear hot, uncomfortable PPE, have their breaks in an outdoor tent or the car park and are getting vaccinated – to protect themselves, their patients, their colleagues, loved ones and the community”.
They are asking us not to leave all the heavy lifting to them.
Wordback 34/2021 issued on 13 August, outlined the UFUSA position on Covid vaccination and we urged “…everyone who can, to get vaccinated.” It was also recognised that “…there are people for whom vaccination is not appropriate, desired or recommended, and that there are others who are hesitant and still considering the matter.”
The UFUSA, in keeping with the union movement advised that we oppose mandatory vaccinations. We believe that the best way forward is to promote community education and to ensure that workers receive information from the acknowledged authorities, making a decision in consultation with their doctor. The health and safety of all members is of critical importance to our Union.
Members concerned about this issue met on 24 August 2021. The provision of detailed information and advice from the employer in relation to the steps that employees are being instructed or requested to adopt has been pursued by our union with the SAFECOM Board in August and we are advised that this will be obtained and provided to all workers across the SA emergency services sector.
Reminder: There is agreement with the SAMFS that mandatory vaccines will not be pursued, and we have not been advised of any intention by the employer to change that position.
FYI, The National Executive of the UFUA also unanimously adopted a national policy on Covid 19 vaccinations, on 2 September 2021:
In recognition of the risks faced by firefighters in responding to emergencies during the COVID 19 pandemic, and in particular recognition of the risks posed by duties in emergency medical response, the UFUA National Executive strongly recommends that all members, subject to the advice of their medical practitioners, obtain COVID 19 vaccinations. The UFUA National Executive does not support the mandating of vaccinations through the use of employment law.
For your further information, below is the bulletin issued by the peak union body yesterday:
THE AUSTRALIAN COUNCIL OF TRADE UNIONS (ACTU) CONDEMNS ATTACK ON UNION OFFICE
The ACTU condemns the violent attack on the CFMEU Construction Victorian office orchestrated by violent right-wing extremists and anti-vaccination activists.
This violent attack on union property which endangered union officials, staff and the public was reprehensible.
Workers across the country are under extreme pressure because of the threat to life and health the pandemic poses, and the restrictions health experts deem necessary to save lives. Those exploiting this pressure and seeking to divide people are a danger to us all.
Unions put the safety of working people first.
High vaccination rates are the only way for us to get out of lockdown, save jobs and get back to work in safe workplaces and communities.
Division and the spreading of misinformation against the vaccination program are putting the lives of vulnerable people at risk and will lead to the overwhelming of our health care system, endangering the health care workforce.
Where public health experts deem it necessary to mandate a vaccine, everything that can be done to assist those workers to get vaccinated must be done. Every worker who can get vaccinated should get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Australian unions will never be intimidated by violence or threats from extremists who refuse to put the good of the community first.
Media Contact: Peter Green 04 0076 4200 or ACTU Media 03 9664 7315
Only respectful dialogue, not violence, can resolve the issues driving people apart.