31 July 2020

Laundry workers in Dandenong — who handle the soiled linen from a major hospital — were pressured by their employer, Spotless, to keep working despite a covid outbreak. The company denied there were any close contacts of the first positive case, and when the workers refused to work in unsafe conditions, Spotless started Fair Work Commission proceedings to order them back to work. Subsequent testing has identified two further cases, and a Health Department inspection demanded by the United Workers Union has shut down the site and deemed that hundreds of workers who spent more than 30 minutes at work are close contacts. UWU’s Godfrey Moase said, “Spotless was forced to act because union members took a stand. If it wasn’t for the workers, this outbreak could have been much worse. Spotless Dandenong workers are low-wage migrant workers who have acted together and swiftly. They acted in the interests of the entire community and should be congratulated for their service. We are calling on Spotless to pay all workers who now have to self-isolate as per the DHHS guidelines, including the labour hire staff… To beat COVID-19 we need to back in workers standing together, and we need everyone to have access to paid pandemic leave. Every single worker. No exemptions.”