You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Melbourne company withdraws its Fair Work case against staff over coronavirus outbreak

ABC Business logoABC Business 30/07/2020 By Rachel Clayton
a sign in front of a building: About half the staff rostered on at Spotless laundry services in Dandenong yesterday did not show up. (Supplied: Google Maps) © Provided by ABC News About half the staff rostered on at Spotless laundry services in Dandenong yesterday did not show up. (Supplied: Google Maps)

A Melbourne cleaning company has withdrawn a case it brought to the Fair Work Commission after its staff refused to turn up to work due to a coronavirus outbreak.

About 35 staff from Spotless laundry in Dandenong, owned by Ensign Services, did not show up to work on Wednesday after two people from the workplace tested positive to coronavirus in less than a week.

The United Workers Union (UWU) said the staff did not believe enough had been done to prevent the outbreak from spreading and decided it was safer to stay at home.

It led Ensign Services to launch a case in the Fair Work Commission to compel the staff to return to work.

The hearing on Wednesday afternoon was adjourned to Thursday but the company subsequently dropped the case.

A statement issued by the Commission said staff from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) were onsite on Thursday to "directly assess" the situation "regarding the range of safety measures in place in response to the detection of COVID-19 at the site".

The Commission said in the statement that Ensign Services had been working with the DHHS before Thursday.

"The UWU have agreed to make all reasonable efforts to advise their members that they are not advising them to not attend to work for the day shift [on Thursday]," the statement said.

The DHHS have been approached for comment on the result of the inspection at the laundry.

Workers felt 'moral obligation' to protect community, union says

In a statement, UWU executive director Godfrey Moase said the withdrawal of the action did not resolve workers' concerns and the union wanted to see pandemic leave offered to the workers.

"Low-wage migrant workers have done the right thing by taking a stand for the safety of themselves, their families and the entire community," he said.

"The question now is who pays. Time and time again, corporations shift their responsibilities to stop the spread onto low-wage migrant workers; many of whom don't qualify for JobKeeper or JobSeeker."

The union said a worker had told them a majority of employees at the site lived in extended family households with elderly parents and in-laws with pre-existing health conditions.

The union quoted the unnamed worker as saying they felt a "moral obligation" to protect their community by preventing spread to other family members who also worked in large, industrial workplaces.


Video: 'Unethical and immoral': An investigation into workers compensation schemes (ABC NEWS)

UP NEXT
UP NEXT
Loading...

Load Error

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon