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Breaking News : Hutchison Workers Win Strong Covid-19 Measures

After a 10 day shutdown workers at Hutchison Ports Australia (HPA) Sydney terminal have returned to work with some of the most stringent Covid-19 measures in place to protect them and their families from the virus. 

A positive Covid-19 case was identified in the workforce on April 3 and a second case was notified shortly after.

Hutchison took six days to reveal the exact shifts worked by the positive worker and only after the intervention of the NSW Department of Health did they cooperate with the workforce and union in dealing with the potential impact of the virus in the terminal. 

Around fifty workers are in or have been in isolation due to the positive case. Hutchison supplied a Close Contact list to NSW Health that doubled in size after the input of the Union and Workplace Health and Safety Committee on request of the NSW Chief Health Officer.

The main lesson in all of this is that companies need to fully cooperate and include the union and workers in the process of Covid-19 contact tracing where incidents occur.

This is even more so with respect to implementing workplace measures to combat workplace transmission of Covid-19. Hutchison has only comparatively small container volumes in Sydney so at no time was the supply chain impacted. With initial cooperation by HPA and inclusion of the workers this 10 day period could have been made significantly shorter and the risks to the workforce and the community could have been dealt with more thoroughly and efficiently.

The comprehensive set of Covid-19 measures agreed to at Hutchison includes shift and physical distancing protocols, cleanliness measures across the entire terminal including machinery, a communication process prior to each shift informing members not to come to work if they are ill and full provision and supply of PPE.

A Covid-19 committee has been set up with workplace representation to monitor and review all protocols and procedures. This return to work has been a rank and file driven process with workers and their union meeting late at night and over weekends to get things fixed and have the best possible Health and Safety implemented in the terminal.

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