There has been an update to a dispute we reported earlier today, between 200 cleaners at Westmead hospital and NSW Health, where the workers were claiming they were not receiving adequate PPE at the hospital in Sydney’s west.
The cleaners had been refusing to enter the hospital’s Covid ward claiming they were denied booties and hairnets, as well as delays to having their masks fitted properly and being denied the ability to shower before leaving the hospital to avoid spreading Covid to their families and the community.
At the NSW Covid press conference today, health minister Brad Hazzard said he had held meetings with the Health Services Union about the dispute, and instructed NSW Health “to be as generous” as possible.
NSW Health has now agreed to supply the cleaners with the PPE and showering facilities they had been demanding, with the workers agreeing to resume their duties late on Friday afternoon.
Gerard Hayes, NSW secretary of the HSU, welcomed the decision, saying “common sense has prevailed and we thank”.
The dispute followed the Covid diagnosis of a vaccinated nurse on Thursday.
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We have also tried to clarify whether rideshare and food delivery drivers will be eligible for the Covid disaster payment. It appears that the answer is yes: rideshare and delivery drivers were eligible for the jobkeeper payment.
The eligibility criteria states that “sole traders may apply for Covid-19 disaster payments if you are unable to operate your business at home”.
We have sought explicit clarity from minister Bridget McKenzie’s office.
A food delivery rider in a deserted Southern Cross station in Melbourne. Photograph: Daniel Pockett/AAP
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The Australian Council of Social Services has criticised the federal government for making people who receive some form of welfare payment ineligible for Covid disaster relief, saying the prime minister Scott Morrison lives in “a different world” to that of people who are on income support.
Chief executive Dr Cassandra Goldie said:
“We know many people have accumulated a lot of debt, and many people’s financial circumstances are already seriously dire. Now I’ve heard the prime minister say this will be fine because people have built up a lot of savings on their balance sheet. I think this reflects the world that the prime minister lives in and the difference between that world and the world of people on low incomes in Australia.
“It’s certainly true that people with significant wealth, and who haven’t lost their jobs — secure jobs — have, in many cases, got savings. Many of them have used low interest loans to snap up properties, and their wealth is increasing, but that’s one world. The other world is the world we say that this government has completely ignored now, which is people on the very lowest incomes.”
Goldie said many people who receive income support payments rely on some form of casual work to pay the bills.
“They rely on that work to feed themselves, and to cover their bills because the social security payment or the Youth Allowance or job seeker is a poverty payment.”
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The UN’s science and culture agency has issued another strong rebuke of the Australian government’s claims it should have held a visit to the Great Barrier Reef before recommending it be listed next week as a world heritage site in danger.
Dr Fanny Douvere, a senior Paris-based Unesco official and head of its marine program, has told the ABC the Australian government’s intense lobbying over procedure was distracting the world from a reality that one of the world’s most emblematic natural wonders was in danger.
The 21-country world heritage committee will start a scheduled 15 days of deliberations tonight on reports from 258 sites around the world and proposals for 44 new entrants as world heritage places.
Unesco has also recommended the committee scrub two sites off their world heritage status – Tanzania’s Selous game reserve and Liverpool’s maritime city front in the UK – and seven sites, including the Great Barrier Reef, be placed on the “in danger” list.
As part of Australia’s lobbying effort, the environment minister Sussan Ley has been in Europe since Monday while reef envoy Warren Entsch took ambassadors from 14 countries on to the reef yesterday.
Ley, Entsch and Australia’s permanent ambassador to Unesco, Mega Anderson, have all accused Unesco of breaking rules by not carrying out a site visit before making their recommendation.
Douvere repeated her defence, first made to the Guardian more than two weeks ago, that all proper processes had been followed and a site visit was neither necessary nor part of the world heritage rules.
“This is a reef system that’s extremely well documented and we are talking about climate change and water quality and they are issues that are very well researched and documented.
“The constant concentration on procedure also extracts us from the reality of what we are dealing with here, with one of the most emblematic coral reef systems in the world that is in danger, with very clear evidence that’s reported in official scientific documents provided by the government of Australia.”
A green sea turtle swims at the Great Barrier Reef. Photograph: Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket/Getty Images
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