Australian unions urge firms to cover costs of COVID-19 tests

The unions are asking employers to shoulder the cost of rapid tests until they are ideally provided free for everyone by the government.
By: | January 20, 2022

Unions in Australia are calling on employers to cover the cost of rapid antigen tests for workers, and are threatening industrial action on the issue. 

The unions plan to send letters to employers countrywide to demand free rapid antigen tests for employees, better quality masks and ventilation, reports ABC News. The push to cover the cost of such tests will be made once the test kits are more readily available, given the current shortage of the item. 

The unions say that rapid tests should ideally be provided free for everyone by the government, but until that happens, employers should shoulder the burden. 

It should not be up to workers to buy the COVID-19 tests to use in the workplace, Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) Secretary Sally McManus said.

READ: Australian businesses lament government response to staffing crisis

If firms cannot provide a safe workplace for employees, then industrial action is an appropriate response, she added. 

“What we’re pointing out is people’s right to cease work if they are put in danger at work,” she said, adding that “the union movement will absolutely stand with workers if they have to do that as a last resort”.