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Calls for emergency action to support hospitality workers

March 22, 2020
By Alana House

United Workers Union is calling on the Federal Government to commit to an emergency rescue package to help close to a million hospitality workers left without work from the COVID-19 crisis.

Pubs, clubs (excluding bottle shops), hotels (excluding accommodation), gyms and indoor sporting venues, cinemas, entertainment venues, casinos, and night clubs will be closed from midday today under new government restrictions to slow the spread of the virus.

The United Workers Union is demanding the Federal Government deliver an emergency $2500 payment for all displaced hospitality workers and a basic income payment while they are out of work of $740 per week (federal minimum wage) for at least the rest of 2020.

The union’s National Secretary Tim Kennedy said the hospitality industry was in meltdown and 79% of the workforce were casuals with no access to paid leave. 

“We are hearing horror stories daily from our members across all industries of the impacts of losing work,” he said.

“Hospitality workers need urgent action now or we will find they are not able to pay their bills, put food on their tables or keep a roof over their heads.”

Additionally, up to a third of the hospitality workforce are migrants on temporary visas who have no access to government assistance and many have no way of returning home.

Among United Workers Union’s suggestions to support hospitality workers are:

  • An immediate emergency payment of $2,500 for all displaced hospitality workers to enable them to make urgent provisions after a period of industry downturn and individual duress.
  • A basic income payment of $740.80 per week paid to hospitality workers financially impacted by COVID-19 for reasons such as loss of work, illness or self-isolation.  This includes all workers in hospitality including casuals, labour hire, self-employed, contractors, gig workers irrespective of citizenship, visa or non-visa status.
  • An 80% wage subsidy for hospitality businesses that continue to operate and keep employing their workers. 
  • Provisional tax free threshold increase from $18,200 to $25,000 to assist low income hospitality workers.
  • Moratorium on rent and mortgage payments. The union said it welcomed the Government’s March 20 announcement to protect renters against evictions at this time and said should carry on for all of 2020.

NT Chief Minister urges public to support takeaway trade

Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner has urged people to order at least one takeaway meal a day to support local businesses during the shutdown.

“If Territorians want to help and are not sure how, order some takeaway,” Mr Gunner told reporters.

“I am serious. At least a meal a day from a local joint. If you’ve got the dough for it, being the best Territorian you can be right now does mean eating takeaway.”

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