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COVID-19 Update

Jul 24, 2021COVID19 RTBU News

Last weekend the NSW Government announced sweeping new restrictions with increased restrictions imposed on the local government areas (LGA) of Canterbury-Bankstown, Fairfield, and Liverpool. This Friday, the NSW Government expanded these restrictions to include the Blacktown and Cumberland LGAs. 

Coming out of lockdown on July 30 seems highly unlikely, with the rate of community transmission and those infectious in the community increasing every day.  Last weekend starting from Monday morning we moved to a weekend timetable across all public transport services.

Announcements like this, seemingly on the fly, have understandably caused stress and confusion for all members. RTBU Delegates and Officials have been working around clock to make sure members concerns are addressed as quickly and as best as possible in the current circumstances.

Transport for NSW (TfNSW) has advised employers to put mechanisms in place so that workers who live in the Blacktown, Cumberland, Canterbury Bankstown, Fairfield, and Liverpool are not required to attend work unless absolutely necessary.

If you live or stay temporarily in the Fairfield LGA, and your employer deems your work as critical so that you are required to leave your LGA, you must get a covid test every three days.  Most employers have arrangements in place to allow you time to get this test.

Members that are able to work from home in these LGA’s should continue to do so. 

For Rail Workers from NSW and Sydney Trains

For rail workers who are in the impacted LGA and required to stay home, it has been confirmed that you will be paid as normal, including shift penalties and allowances that would have applied to your rostered work. 

For members who are deemed “authorised workers” from the impacted LGAs and are required to stay home we have confirmed that you will be paid as normal, including shift penalties and allowances that would have applied to your rostered work. There remains substantial ambiguity about who is an “authorised worker”, and we will continue to work with Transport to get greater clarity. We’ve been advised that all operations and safety critical roles are classified as “authorised workers”.

If you’re not an “authorised worker” and you live or stay in an impacted LGA, then your employer should either allow you to work from home or give you alternative duties. If neither of these options are available, they should consider special leave.

Freight

The announcement of additional testing requirements for workers who live in Greater Sydney and travel to regional locations, or workers who live in regional locations but are required to stay in Greater Sydney was another announcement that caused mass confusion. 

Last week the RTBU Locomotive Division wrote to all Freight employers about four key issues.

  1. Employers to undertake genuine consultation and risk assessments with affected employees and their representatives in response to operating within the bounds of these health orders.
  2. That an additional 2 weeks of paid pandemic leave be provided for any worker who is forced to isolate due to being a close contact or testing positive for COVID-19. 
  3. That an additional 2 hours of pay be made available to workers who are either getting vaccinated or need a COVID test. Testing must not to impact breaks, maximum shift lengths or minimum rest periods.
  4. Ensure that vulnerable workers are kept safe from the Delta Variant be either arranging suitable alternative employment or allowing them to stay home on full pay.

Transport for NSW has advised us that it has issued strong advice to private sector employers about assisting workers through this difficult time. If your employer is doing the wrong thing, make sure you let us know by replying to this email.

Support those who have lost wages

RTBU Officials and Delegates are working around the clock to make sure that members are correctly paid throughout these challenging times, but if you or your family have lost income, there may be options from the NSW or Federal Government for financial support 

The Commonwealth support package is available for those who have lost income due to the lockdown or a requirement to self-isolate who are not currently receiving other Government payments. Payments can be accessed through your My Gov account or by contacting Services Australia. 

It is a rapidly evolving situation, and we will update members as information comes to hand.

Take Care, Stay Safe, and please contact your Delegate or the Union Office if you need support at work.

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