As we move towards easing more COVID restrictions and the next phase of pandemic management, whatever that looks like, we must ensure the huge pressure you’ve been under is addressed in a meaningful and lasting way.
We’ve been able to get many answers about managing COVID’s myriad of daily challenges, but we have ongoing work to do with members to find more solutions to the underlying issues. Planning for the colder months will begin soon and our main concern remains a surge workforce and the health and safety of workers and the vulnerable people you care for.
We also have some other big things for you to get involved in, and wage negotiations for everyone except nurses and midwives are impending, so we’ll be out soon to talk about that.
The community deserves answers about DCT
Last week we talked to a number of members about the announcement to destroy the Department of Communities, and it’s clear the decision is confusing and worrying.
The silence from Premier Gutwein about why this is such a good idea is deafening, but this absence of evidence means we can only assume ideology, self-interest or some other unfounded reason is behind it.
Children, housing and homelessness services protect the most vulnerable Tasmanians. They are nota commodity. We wrote an open letter to the community, and you can read it here.
HACSU opposes the proposal and we’ve written to the premier and other ministers to seek urgent discussions about their decision. We’re keen to hear how turning housing into a standalone authority will immediately address the needs of people sleeping in their cars and on their mates’ couches.
We’re enthused to learn how the much-heralded youth justice reforms that include the closure of Ashley will be managed when the department responsible no longer exists, and everybody can’t wait to hear the plan for operating child safety effectively when it’s no longer in a department that has welfare as its focus.
We’ll be organising member meetings across the island in the next few weeks so we can talk to you about how to stop this disaster in the making, so keep an eye out for those. If we don’t fight, we lose.
Quarantine agreements and a COVID allowance
A meeting to finalise arrangements for a COVID-19 allowance has been cancelled at the lastminute. This one was meant to happen last Friday and isn’t the first time we feel we’ve been avoided on this issue.
Unions want an allowance for all who work throughout a COVID level 3 escalation, but the government said they’ll only consider paying one when and if we ever get to a level 4 situation – but that’s an allowance you have when you don’t have an allowance, and we’ve sought payment for past and future level 3 escalations.
The proposed level3 payments of up to $60 vary depending on the work you do and the environment you’re working in, and they fairly reflect what’s already been discussed between the parties and who should be covered by this agreement.
To have the government trying to delay is frustrating and we’ve made this very clear and said we expect a meeting this week.
The government has also indicated its intention to withdraw from the Domestic and International Hotels Quarantine Agreement. Many workers in these settings are currently receiving an allowance, and for months we’ve been trying to renegotiate this agreement, but we don’t accept the government’s wish to cease payments.
We’ll update you once we get to meet with the government, but if that meeting can’t be scheduled, we’ll be discussing our next options.
RHH workers demand better on safety
Environmental Services worker at the Royal Hobart Hospital stood up and said “no more” after a safety issue they’d raised couldn’t be fixed. For some reason, other workers decided they didn’t have to wear a mask when an ESO entered their area to clean their office.
ESOs asked nicely, then escalated the issue, but were still faced with faces – not faces wearing masks – which is part of the public health order designed to keep everyone safe.
The ESOs met and decided their safety is just as important as anybody else’s. They voted to take action due to unsafe work practices and banned the cleaning of any area where its occupant refuses to wear a mask, and that ban will remain until the requirement for mask-wearing is lifted.
HACSU members who stick together and demand better always win.
AHP membership meeting coming to a venue, or a computer, near you
Allied professionals and other health professionals in the public sector are due to negotiate a replacement agreement. Executive members of the HACSU AHP Sub-branch have been working since last year on a log of claims compiled from your responses to our massive survey, our discussion paper and the issues we’ve all been tackling for the last couple of years.
We’ll be out and about to meet with you wherever we can to talk about the claim, and we’ll setup some online meetings for anyone who can’t get there. We want to achieve some huge changes, and we can only do that together – so if you have a workmate who isn’t a union member, you might want to chat to them about joining today.
Health planning for winter
We will be meeting with senior health officials in the next few weeks to begin planning for winter. What we know so far is that a few quarantine hotels will be retained, and consideration will be given to managing influenza cases in a similar way to how COVID cases have previously been managed, with an intention to have a strong plan for the colder months.
We’re keen to make sure any plan has the necessary resources, especially workers, to handle whatever comes our way. If you have concerns or questions about winter planning in your area, please let us know.
Personal leave and statutory declarations
We’ve had a heap of calls lately about statutory declarations and personal leave – if you’re covered by the Health and Human Services (Tas State Service) Award, you can provide a stat dec in certain circumstances – anyone who says you can’t is wrong.
The award clearly says if it’s not reasonably practicable for you to get a medical certificate, stat dec stating your circumstances and the reasons why leave is required is to be provided. This is coupled with your entitlement to take up to 38 hours of personal leave in aggregate in any personal leave year without being required to provide evidence, except where your absence is for three or more consecutive days.
Although it can only be provided where it’s not “reasonably practicable” to see a doctor, we all know that quite often you can’t see one.
We say the current evidence provisions relating to personal leave in the public sector are less beneficial than the national employment standards, and we’ll be sure to make that known as we enter into negotiations for the public sector unions wages agreement this year.
HACSU represents you, HACSU supports you
Thanks for the amazing work you’re doing to support our community. Be strong, take care and stay safe - we’re proud to represent you.
If you have an urgent matter that needs to be addressed, you can call HACSUassist on 1300 880032 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can contact HACSUassist between 8amand 6pm Monday to Thursday and 8am to 5pm on Fridays, about anything in this newsletter or any other concern, however small you feel your issue might be.