As most of you are no doubt aware, the vaccine rollout is a Federal Government initiative and they are responsible for specifying priority populations and workgroups, drawing on advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI).
WA’s COVID-19 vaccination program began on 22 February 2021 and is being rolled out in phases because of the limited supply of vaccine deemed safe and effective by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
During my many discussions with the State Government, Government Sector Labour Relations, the Public Sector Commissioner, and with the Chief Health Officer of Western Australia Dr. Andrew Robertson (as well as other Public Sector Union Leaders), we managed to get the WA State Government to agree that employers should allow public sector workers reasonable paid time off work to have the vaccine administered (that being they could attend during work hours).
I, along with National Office and the ACTU made it very clear, through a number of submissions to Government that public transport workers with direct and indirect contact with passengers should have priority access to the vaccine, however, vaccination should not be mandatory. The decision to vaccinate must rest with the individual, not the employer.
There is no debate that as public transport workers you are not only integral to the functioning of the community, but that you are also at significant risk of exposure to COVID-19 through direct interaction with passengers, and indirectly through the airborne transmission of the virus through air conditioning systems and shared contact with surface areas.
The West Australian government has just announced people aged 30 and over are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.
The WA Government has provided questions and answers regarding the COVID-19 vaccine for public sector employees here.
The PTA, like other WA public sector agencies, is allowing employees paid time away from work to get the vaccine, provided the absence from duty is pre-approved. As employees, you must speak with your line manager to get approval before making a booking. This is to ensure that normal operations and services continue.
Our discussions with other employers to afford their employees the same continue.
For information related to PTA specific members on the above and other COVID-19 matters, please see the PTA’s Industrial Circular and accompanying table here.
For information on WA’s rollout please visit here.