Monday, November 16, 2020

Further Covid-19 Outbreak in Adelaide – Front Line Workers Most Affected Again!

Written by: Ned K. on 17 November 2020

Another outbreak of Covid-19 in Adelaide started from a residential hotel, the Peppers in the city centre. 

The hotel was one of many being used as a quarantine centre for Australians returning from overseas. 

A few of the people being quarantined in the hotel tested positive to the virus. The workers in the hotel included nurses to check those quarantined, housekeeping staff and other back of house workers employed by the hotel and security officers whose employer was in a sub-contract arrangement with MSS Security. All the security officers were employed on a casual basis, working long shifts of at least 12 hours, with little training and sometimes with only two breaks during the whole shift. Apart from the nurses, the cleaners had the closest contact with those being quarantined.

The public was assured that every precaution possible was being implemented to assure the safety of those quarantined and of the workers in the hotels being used for quarantine purposes.
However, what the public was not told was that the workers in the roles mentioned above were not regularly tested for Covid-19. So, the inevitable happened. Three of the workers, one cleaner and two security officers contracted the virus through either direct or indirect contact with those quarantined or by touching objects whose surfaces had the virus.

After the crisis in hotel quarantining in Melbourne, why regular testing of workers in the hotel was not carried out is anyone's guess. Was it an oversight or was it more likely a cost issue? 

Where was the duty of care of the employer of the workers concerned? Nowhere to be seen. This lack of duty of care was made more evident when the workers in the hotel were just stood down without pay as soon as the outbreak occurred. 

The virus was carried by the three workers to their families, some of whom work in food retail, prisons, hospital emergency departments and aged care. The potential for the virus spreading through the mainly working class suburbs was there for all to see. Thousands of people started queuing at Covid-19 test stations in the suburbs and the government predictably saw "red" and started to implement restrictions across the community similar to what applied in the initial outbreak of Covid-19.

The point is that capitalist governments and the privately-owned quarantine hotels in this case put the interests of profits and "the economy" before the interests of the service workers in those hotels. If it had been a CEO of a big company staying, or just present, in one of those quarantine hotels for a few hours or days on some business appointment, do you think they would have at least been offered a Covid-19 test during their stay? Why not the same for the workers? There-in lies the problem. Under capitalism the chance of a Covid-19 outbreak is always on the cards, even in areas where you least expect it. 

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