JBS Australia accused of asking COVID-19 positive staff to return to work

JBS Australia accused of asking COVID-19 positive staff to return to work

Meat processor JBS Australia has been accused of allegedly asking staff that tested positive for COVID-19 to return to work at a site in Brooklyn, Melbourne, along with other breaches of virus restrictions.

According to the United Workers Union (UWU), the company allegedly placed profits over safety and has put workers' lives at risk during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in Victoria.

A spokesperson from the UWU, Susie Allison, says the organisation has "serious concerns" about the company's handling of safety during the pandemic.

The union alleges that JBS asked COVID-19 positive workers to return to the Brooklyn abattoir and tested workers on site without proper safety precautions in place.

"We have had reports of overcrowding in the locker rooms with little regard for social distancing. We have been told about the use of faulty electronic thermometers," says Allison.

"Workers were tested onsite at JBS in Brooklyn. The Union supports worksite testing as a quick and efficient way of ensuring workers have access to testing.

"However, we're concerned about JBS's oversight of this process and management's commitment to safety. We have heard worrying stories of people who have tested positive being asked by the company to return to the site."

The union has also criticised the company for not supporting affected workers with paid pandemic leave, leaving staff in a dire financial situation.

"Workers at JBS have continued to work at a back-breaking pace to keep up with panic buying, even during the worst of the pandemic, and in return, the company needs to ensure all workers are paid during the site closure, which has been brought about through no fault of their own.

"JBS must share profits with workers by paying all workers pandemic leave for the duration of the shutdown."

JBS has been contacted to confirm the UWU's allegations but Business News Australia has not received a statement from the meat processor at the time of writing.

The allegations come as Victoria has reported 300 new cases of COVID-19 today, including six new deaths connected to aged care facilities.

51 of the new cases are connected to known and contained outbreaks and 249 are still under investigation.

The UWU's allegations also follow the New South Wales government announcing it has fined three businesses in the State for breaching COVID-19 restrictions.

NSW says it has completed 1,131 pub inspections and has issued three fines to businesses non-compliant with the rules including the Star Sydney, the Golden Sheaf Hotel and the Auburn Hotel.

There have been seven new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in NSW today.

Updated at 12:08pm AEST on 24 July 2020.

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