Federal Member for Newcastle Sharon Claydon has called for greater protection for casual workers in the Newcastle-Hunter region as part of the coronavirus stimulus package.
Ms Claydon said local businesses and workers were particularly vulnerable to the flow-on impacts of coronavirus.
“Our region is heavily exposed to the economic shockwaves from corona, given the significance of our small business, tourism and hospitality sectors,” Ms Claydon said.
“Regretfully, these same industries are also heavily reliant on casual workers, who are enormously vulnerable and without sick pay if they get their shifts cut or have to go into isolation.”
Ms Claydon said that concerns about workers had been a key theme of feedback from local business and representative organisations.
“Local businesses are facing unprecedented challenges themselves, but the consistent message they’ve been giving me is they want to protect their workers,” Ms Claydon said.
“The Morrison Government is doing nothing to ensure that the many thousands of casual workers in our community get through this terrible time. The message is clearly ‘You’re on your own.’”
Ms Claydon said it was also a public health issue to contain the spread of the virus.
“The last thing we would want is sick workers continuing to go to work because they can’t afford to do otherwise,” Ms Claydon said.
“This isn’t just about protecting vulnerable workers – it’s about protecting our entire community.”
Ms Claydon said it the problem shouldn’t fall on the shoulders of business to fix.
“It’s great that some businesses have announced that they will continue to pay workers who have to go into isolation, but it’s neither fair nor reasonable to expect all businesses to do this.
“Successive Liberal Federal Governments have supported an increasingly casualised workforce. It’s now incumbent on the Morrison Government to step up and protect these workers and our communities.”