The planned widescale reopening of Greater Sydney construction sites – outside of the locked-down Local Government Areas – is at risk unless the NSW Government authorises key workers residing in these areas to travel to work.
This is the warning issued by both the employer and employee organisations representing the construction sector in New South Wales.
The Australian Constructors Association and the CFMEU Construction & General union said in a joint statement issued on Saturday that currently workers living in a locked-down Local Government Area are only able to travel outside that area for work if they are classified as an authorised worker.
However, the list of authorised workers does not include workers in the construction industry.
Over half of workforce lives in locked-down areas
Australian Constructors Association CEO, Jon Davies, said: “Many construction sites will struggle to reopen following the end of the two-week industry shutdown, as over half the workforce is located in the locked down [areas] and is therefore not authorised to travel.”
The CFMEU’s NSW Secretary, Darren Greenfield, agreed, saying: “Many of these workers are required to supervise site activities, ensure work is undertaken safely and operate critical plant and equipment.”
Both organisations have called on the State Government to add these supervisors and critical operators to the list of workers authorised to travel from locked-down locations to projects located in other areas.
Can’t afford further delay in reopening of work sites
“Construction has been significantly impacted by the two-week shut down and we can’t afford any further delay in [the] reopening of work sites,” noted Greenfield
“We are confident that the agreed further tightening of what were already comprehensive Covid-safe operating protocols and procedures will keep workers and their families safe and prevent transmission of the disease on construction sites,” added Davies.
Both say they are now working collaboratively with the NSW Government to implement rapid antigen testing across construction sites in order to stay one step ahead of the virus.
“Construction is all about managing risk and, as an industry, we have shown since the start of the pandemic [that we] can effectively manage the risk of Covid transmission on our worksites,” the joint statement said.