MY BUSINESS HEALTH, a web portal designed to provide holistic support to small business owners, now features a dedicated section for those struggling with the COVID-19 crisis.
The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell has been inundated with distressing stories of small businesses decimated by the ripple-effects of coronavirus.
“Small businesses are in a world of pain right now, with many forced to close their doors and others fighting to survive,” Ms Carnell said.
“Many of these small business owners will be too busy in their efforts to stay afloat to realise the toll it’s taking on their mental health.
“My Business Health offers simple and practical information to help small businesses find their way through this difficult time.
“This includes the latest information on government support measures as well as assistance with employer obligations, finances, available government payments, loans and tax," Ms Carnell said.
“There are also a number of resources by leading mental health organisations such as Beyond Blue, Lifeline and Everymind that deal with the impact of COVID-19 specifically.
“Personally, I want the Australian small and family business community to know that despite these extraordinary challenges we are now facing, this is temporary and there will come a day when our lives and livelihoods return to normal.
“My office will be working hard to ensure small businesses are supported throughout this difficult journey.
“But during the coming weeks and months, find ways to work on your business – consider the changes you can make to adjust to this new environment if possible – and be kind to yourselves.
“Try to take time out for your wellbeing because your business ultimately depends on it. Visiting My Business Health is an excellent starting point.”
24-hour telephone support is available via Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.
AUSTRALIANS are being urged not to panic about supplies of essential goods, with the Maritime Union of Australia saying wharfies, seafarers and port workers are committed to ensuring supply chains continue to operate smoothly despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
The MUA is seeking an urgent meeting with Federal Government and industry representatives to develop a comprehensive plan to address the impacts of Covid-19 on maritime supply chains.
With more than 90 percent of Australian imports arriving by sea, including essential medical supplies, household items, and fuel, ensuring shipping and stevedoring continue operating safely will be vital to prevent the current health and economic crisis being exacerbated by the breakdown of supply chains.
The union today set demands that support the global call from the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) for governments and employers to act to maintain sustainable supply chains and protect workers vital to Covid-19 response.
The MUA national secretary and ITF president Paddy Crumlin said the current health crisis has revealed how precarious Australia’s supply chains had become, with all container ships and fuel tankers delivering international supplies to the country now foreign owned and operated.
“Maritime supply chains are integral to keeping Australia moving, with everything from medical supplies and fuel to essential household items arriving at ports around the country,” Mr Crumlin said.
“That is why we are urging the Federal Government to immediately meet with industry and union representatives to develop procedures and policies that ensure our maritime supply chains aren’t cut.
“We are seeking additional resources be made available immediately to allow the mandatory pre-entry inspection of all vessels entering Australian ports, along with vital health and welfare checks for international crew members.
“Workers must also be provided with unlimited paid leave if they need to self-isolate or care for themselves, children, and other relatives, to ensure a lack of leave doesn’t result in people working when it is not safe to do so, potentially exposing others to this virus.”
Mr Crumlin said employers also had a significant role to play, both in the provision of appropriate health and safety measures and by ensuring income support so that no worker is financially disadvantaged.
“We are seeking paid leave for all workers while they await Covid-19 testing, along with unlimited paid special leave for those who return a positive result," she said.
“Workers should also have access to special leave if they need to self-isolate due to potential exposure, along with situations where they need to care for children or relatives, including during mandatory school closures.
“Employers must conduct regular toolbox meetings to provide clear and up-to-date health and safety advice to workers on how they are dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The implementation of additional cleaning and decontamination measures on site, along with the provision of suitable PPE where workers are near each other, must also occur.
“Proper consultation with workplace health and safety committees and workers’ elected health and safety representatives should take place in a regular and ongoing manner to ensure emerging risks are quickly identified and appropriate measures put in place.”
ITF statement: https://www.itfglobal.org/en/news/covid-19-itf-global-demands-governments-and-employers
THE Air Conditioning and Mechanical Contractors' Association (AMCA), Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU), Civil Contractors Federation (CCF), Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), Electrical Trades Union (ETU), Master Builders Victoria (MBV), Master Plumbers, National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA), Plumbing and Pipe Trades Employees Union (PPTEU), Property Council Victoria and the Urban Development Institute of Australia [Victoria] (UDIA) have united to send a strong message to the building and construction industry: "Treat this situation very seriously and with the highest importance by adhering to all the recommended safety procedures".
The united group has stressed the need to follow appropriate measures and guidelines which stipulate strict hygiene practices, social distancing and separation of workers on meal breaks, in addition to other measures, to ensure sites can be kept safe and stay open.
Employer groups and unions have worked together to develop guidelines in line with government recommendations and they should be adhered to immediately and followed dutifully by all employers and employees.
The united group has and will continue to follow guidelines from both the National Cabinet and Victorian State Government, which confirms that stage two restrictions do not apply to construction sites and electrical and plumbing services - as these are considered essential activities.
As vital constituents of the economy, it is critical that all stakeholders of the building and construction industry work together to ensure the protection of employers, workers, their families and our community.
The group will continue to work with all relevant leadership and government bodies – including following the advice of the Victorian Chief Health Officer - to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their collective memberships and the community.
THE TEXTILE, Clothing and Footwear (TCF) workers’ union is calling on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to deliver on his promise to protect lives and livelihoods by ensuring Australian manufacturing workers are deployed to produce critical medical supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) to Australian Governments.
Local manufacturers have indicated to the union that they can save jobs by immediately transitioning their production away from clothes to in-demand products like surgical gowns, face masks, clinical waste bags and waste bag closure devices which the Commonwealth is seeking.
The Commonwealth’s Department of Industry put out a Request For Information about Australian industry’s capability to supply these products ten days ago and Australian industry is ready to commence production now.
“In order for jobs to be saved, all the government needs to do is provide local manufacturers the specifications and orders and production can immediately start,” said TCF sector secretary of the manufacturing division of the Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union, Jenny Kruschel.
“Using existing TCF supply chains, capabilities, skills and manufacturers’ expertise is the most efficient and effective way to deliver these vital supplies, allowing medical professionals to get on with their jobs and if done right it will save jobs,” Ms Kruschel said.
“It should be a no brainer and we are hoping common sense will prevail and these businesses and workers will be given the opportunity to deliver these orders.”
The union has been in contact with the Commonwealth and several State Governments to try to confirm their growing requirements for medical supplies and PPE.
With orders from retailers being cancelled, thousands of TCF manufacturing workers have already been stood down, had their hours slashed or been made redundant, but several manufacturers are holding out hope for a fair go in the medical supplies’ contracts.
“Manufacturers are holding on for dear life and holding out hope that the right thing will be done by them and the workforce,” Ms Kruschel said.
“But we need action now, the prompt supply of these protective items isn’t just critical to the health effort, it is vital to saving local manufacturing jobs.
"The union will leave no stone unturned to protect the jobs of our members whilst ensuring the efficient delivery of vital medical supplies to front line medical professionals, hospitals and clinics.
“Workers in the industry are ready to play their part by using their skills to ensure the vital supply of quality products, they just need to be provided the chance."