October 6, 2021
The WA Government has issued new public health directions making COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for workers in the mining industry.
Workers in WA mines are required to be fully vaccinated by 1 January with a first jab by 1 December.
Our Union has advocated that COVID-19 vaccinations should be voluntary in the mining industry, with the high rates we need to protect safety better achieved through education, access and incentives.
However, if vaccination is to be made mandatory in the sector – it is better done through public health orders based on health advice rather than being imposed by individual employers.
Based on the risks posed by the extremely contagious Delta variant, the WA Chief Health Officer has assessed that mandatory vaccinations are needed to protect the remote and regional communities surrounding mining operations and to prevent industry closures. Similar directions have been made in other industries considered at risk of spreading COVID including transport and aged care.
By law, employers are required to implement these directions. They need to engage in genuine consultation with workers and union representatives throughout the process.
Members can be assured that we will work hard to make sure your jobs, rights and working conditions are protected to the fullest extent possible as the directions are implemented.
When we learned the WA Government was looking at mandatory vaccination in mining, we successfully pushed to extend the deadline to give people more time to get vaccinated.
We are advocating strongly for mineworkers to be given paid time to receive the vaccination and for any vaccine-related side effects they may experience.
We are concerned about how any arising workforce issues or shortages will be managed – especially the prospect of workers being delayed from finishing their swing if they are unable to be replaced by a vaccinated worker.
And we will make sure members with a genuine medical exemption have the support they need to have their exemption recognised by the Chief Health Officer.
This pandemic has been extremely tough on WA mineworkers – many of whom have had months at a time away from home due to border closures.
Our priority is to keep members safely in work and to make sure your voices are heard by government and employers.
We will keep you up to date with more information as it comes to hand.