Industry and Government Agreement for Vaccination Plan While Unions Fight Against Mandates

By Rebecca Zhu
Rebecca Zhu
Rebecca Zhu
August 19, 2021 Updated: August 19, 2021

Businesses, unions, and the government have agreed to work together to develop a plan that will encourage workers to get vaccinated without resorting to vaccine mandates.

On Wednesday, Industrial Relations Minister Michaelia Cash lead a virtual roundtable discussion with 50 employer groups, union, and government leaders to discuss how to approach and support workplace vaccinations.

“It was a positive meeting and really pleasing to see employer groups and unions come together in the spirit of co-operation,” Cash said. “It was clear from the discussion that participants are united in the goal to have as many Australians as possible vaccinated against COVID-19.”

Major airline Qantas is the latest company to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for all staff as part of workplace safety measures.

However, some unions are disputing mandated vaccination policies around Australia, such as for New South Wales construction workers and SPC workers.

Construction union CFMEU has firmly positioned themselves against mandatory vaccinations for their workers and said they opposed any blanket “no jab, no job” policy.

“Ultimately though, medical decisions must be a matter for an individual acting on the advice of their doctor, and workers should not be punished for acting according to their own personal circumstances,” CFMEU Queensland said in a statement.

CFMEU NSW Secretary Darren Greenfield said they had been arguing with the state government to support individual choice and to lift the mandatory vaccination restriction.

“We do call on the government to release the pressure on members who do not want to get the vaccination, never will get the vaccination because that’s their personal choice, and allow them to get back to work,” Greenfield said in a message on Facebook.

Independent MP Craig Kelly said he stood with the CFMEU in its position to support informed choice.

“I never ever thought I’d be saying this, but I STAND WITH THE CMFEU,” Kelly wrote on Telegram. “Good on the CFMEU for positioning themselves on the side of freedom!”

Kelly said the issue of mandatory workplace vaccinations showed a new political divide, not about being Left or Right, but Authoritarian or Freedom.

Meanwhile, SPC had been in discussions with the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) around their policy to require all onsite workers to be vaccinated by November.

However, discussions fell through after both sides could not come to concessions. The union said mandatory vaccination policies were up to public health officials while SPC refused to back down on their decision.

A law firm is also preparing huge class actions against state and federal governments to fight against mandated vaccinations for aged care workers and construction workers.

Rebecca Zhu
Rebecca Zhu