Shepparton News

Concerns addressed


- By Max Stainkamph

SPC is refusing to back down from mandating COVID-19 vaccinatio­ns for all staff and contractor­s by the end of the year and is calling for more clarity from government­s on whether companies can force workers to get the jab.

Company officials met with union representa­tives and workers again on Wednesday to reply to more than 30 questions which the Australian Manufactur­ing Workers’ Union presented to SPC following its mandate that all employees would need to be vaccinated by November 15.

SPC chief executive Robert Giles said consultati­on was ongoing and while there would be more wriggle room around deadlines for employees who wanted to be vaccinated, he again said those who flatly refused would potentiall­y have their employment terminated.

‘‘We’re serious, if we get to November and there are employees refusing to vaccinate after we’ve talked through concerns, they might have to find somewhere else to work,’’ he said.

‘‘We’re not going to (physically) force them to take it but we need to protect our workforce.’’

He said SPC was pushing back against unions’ attempts to soften the mandate which would mean workers would only be encouraged to get vaccinated.

‘‘We wouldn’t have said it was a mandate if it wasn’t the position we wanted to take,’’ Mr Giles said.

He said most workers he’d had contact with both supported the mandate and intended to be vaccinated, and that the company couldn’t afford an outbreak during peak season.

Mr Giles also said he’d like more support from the Federal Government to make the legality and process of mandating vaccines — which QANTAS also mandated this week — clearer.

‘‘There are jurisdicti­on issues at play but it’s something National Cabinet should be tackling,’’ he said.

Mr Giles said there would be no issues with employees who were vaccinated in early September with AstraZenec­a and would have to wait until December for their second dose, saying if there was intent from workers the company would ‘‘work with them’’.

‘‘We’ve had some employees say ‘we’re not doing it’ and not liking being told what to do, but we want to work with them and sit down and have a logical conversati­on,’’ he said.

AMWU secretary Jason Hefford said there had been ‘‘a little bit of movement’’ at Wednesday’s meeting.

He wasn’t satisfied with some of the answers SPC gave to the union’s 30-odd questions and he ‘‘still had concerns’’ over the policy.

Mr Hefford said the lack of clarity from the Federal Government meant the issue would likely be resolved in front of a Fair Work hearing should a worker’s employment — SPC or elsewhere — be terminated over vaccine status.

He said ‘‘Scott Morrison sitting on the fence is getting his mates to do his dirty work’’ over vaccine mandates.

Talks between workers, unions, and the company are continuing.

 ??  ?? Standing strong: SPC chief executive Robert Giles has hit back at union comments about the company’s decision to make vaccines mandatory.
Standing strong: SPC chief executive Robert Giles has hit back at union comments about the company’s decision to make vaccines mandatory.

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