Comcare investigators denounce FedEx Covid response: TWU


'Inadequate action' at Matraville depot after worker's Covid diagnosis

Comcare investigators denounce FedEx Covid response: TWU
TWU national secretary Richard Olsen has accused FedEx of having a "cavalier attitude".

 

The Transport Workers' Union (TWU) NSW has given short shrift to FedEx over perceived health and safety shortfalls at its Matraville depot following a worker’s positive Covid-19 test.

An investigation by the national work health and safety regulator Comcare criticised FedEx over its response to a worker at the Matraville, New South Wales depot who tested positive in August, according to the union.

The investigation was prompted by a complaint lodged by the TWU and found FedEx in multiple breaches of the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act, including:

• failing to ensure the health and safety of workers by allowing causal contacts of the original case to commence their afternoon shift

• failing to adequately consult with workers about the work health and safety risks posed by the worker testing positive to Covid.

Comcare said in its investigation report that FedEx Australia did not comply with its duties under the WHS Act with respect to the scope of the inspection, specifically management and control of Covid-19 hazards and risk in the workplace in response to a worker testing positive for Covid-19.


Read about the strike threat over FedEx workers' agreements, here


TWU NSW state secretary Richard Olsen said the investigation by Comcare was confirmation of FedEx’s "cavalier attitude" towards the health and safety of their workforce, and called on FedEx to urgently lift its game.

"It is against the law for a business to recklessly expose their workers to a health and safety risk – and that’s what this investigation has found FedEx management to have done," Olsen said.

"When the TWU first raised concerns about this case, FedEx management accused the Union of making ‘inaccurate allegations’.

"This investigation by the regulator makes it crystal clear that the only ones telling lies are FedEx management.

"FedEx management need to issue an apology to the workers whose health and safety they recklessly jeopardised and give a commitment that this will never happen again.

"While it’s disappointing that the regulator won’t be taking any further action against FedEx over these breaches, it’s clear that the days of FedEx putting profits first and worker safety last must end now."

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FedEx management was alerted at around 1:30pm on August 16 that a worker at their Matravillle site had tested positive for COVID, but despite this allowed a shift change to occur as normal at 2:30pm.

In that shift change, several workers entered the site who were later deemed close contacts and have since been ordered into self-isolation.

After worker health and safety representatives learned of the situation several hours later, they immediately directed all workers to cease unsafe work under the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act and contacted the TWU, which lodged a complaint with Comcare.

FedEx had earlier stated that the health and safety of its team members, customers and communities as a top priority, adding that it complied with all NSW Health requirements.

The TWU says Comcare’s findings come as around 4,000 FedEx workers across the country are voting to gain the right to strike, after FedEx tried to force through an agreement with less-than-inflation pay rises, inadequate superannuation increases and no guarantees against outsourcing.

 

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