Coronavirus Updates

Coronavirus Updates

UNIONS WARN OF LEGAL ACTION OVER SHUTDOWNS

Peter Moss - Friday, March 20, 2020

AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW REPORTS: Major construction unions and employer groups are calling on infrastructure projects to be kept open in the face of pressure over the coronavirus, arguing the health risks from the virus can be managed.

The Electrical Trades Union and the National Electrical and Communications Association have united in urging governments to re-commit to billion-dollar infrastructure projects and threatened to take legal action for payment if sites are shut down without advice from the chief medical officer.

ETU National Secretary Allen Hicks said infrastructure projects were vital to keeping people employed and avoiding a long-term economic contraction and urged federal and state minister to even bring forward further shovel-ready projects as part of a stimulus plan.

Suggested safety measures to contain the virus include staggered shift starts and finishes, extra cleaning and separation of meal breaks and work groups to achieve maximum personal space.

NECA NSW executive director Oliver Judd backed the union's position and said it would seek to hold builders to account on behalf of subcontractors.

“At this stage, our understanding is that government ordered shutdowns on the advice or directive of state or federal chief medical officers are the only rationale for site shutdowns. We expect builders to adhere to this and will be challenging any that do not."