Vulnerable workers must be protected in NSW COVID outbreak

Workers in the NSW lockdown zones who have underlying health problems should be not be forced to choose between their health or their incomes.


RTBU National Secretary Mark Diamond said the Federal Government’s failed vaccine rollout had left many frontline workers exposed to COVID-19 and without access to vital income support.

“COVID-vulnerable workers in Greater Sydney in public-facing jobs are currently playing Russian Roulette every time they clock on.

“It is hypocritical of the NSW and Federal Governments to lecture these people about staying home when neither level of government has offered them any income support.

“If they refuse to work then they risk getting sacked, but if they go to work they risk getting a deadly disease.  What are they supposed to do?

“Scott Morrison has had 18 months to put a COVID-Vulnerable worker income support scheme in place, but he’s done nothing.  Australians can’t wait any longer.”

The RTBU has been campaigning for a federally-funded COVID Vulnerable Worker Payment to enable workers who are at high-risk risk to voluntarily stay home during a localised outbreak of COVID-19.


Mr Diamond said to be categorised as a ‘COVID Vulnerable Worker’ and therefore be eligible for the scheme, a worker must fall into one of the categories listed as ‘at risk’ by the Australian Government Department of Health.  Consideration should also be given to extending this to pregnant workers, and workers who have a medical reason for not wearing a mask.

“Everyone wants to get beyond these lockdowns, but there must be mechanisms in place to protect the most vulnerable members of our community first.

“A COVID-Vulnerable Worker Scheme would mean governments could lower the risk associated with keeping essential businesses open while the virus is circulating within local communities.

“Better protection of vulnerable workers is absolutely essential to keeping businesses open until the population can be fully vaccinated.”

For more information about the campaign go to