Coronavirus: United Services Union seeks restaurant, bar staff protections as NSW prepares to reopen venues

Protect hospitality workers from COVID-19 as venues return: union

Hospitality workers could become victims in the rush to re-open the economy, a union representing the staff has warned state and federal governments.

The United Services Union has flagged major concerns in a position paper, arguing that staff may come second from Friday when venues across NSW can re-open to a maximum of 10 patrons and must enforce strict social distancing.

The union's national secretary, Tim Kennedy, said the industry had an appalling record on worker welfare and strict measures were urgently required.

"Like all Australians, we want things to return to normal and for workers to be back at work as soon as possible. But the top priority as things re-open must be safety," Mr Kennedy said.

"We have very real concerns that the federal government and state governments have tunnel vision in the re-opening efforts, and are going to put profits before safety.

"That's why hospitality workers need a seat at the table and a clear set of standards upheld to ensure the entire community can have confidence the industry can re-open safely.

"We are calling on governments to implement mandatory training for all hospitality staff prior to any venue re-opening; the provision of paid pandemic leave for all hospitality workers; and a zero-tolerance approach to any employer who does not comply.

The union has proposed paid training for staff to operate in a COVID-19 environment, universal sick leave for all workers including casual, and authorisation for union members to notify state governments of non-compliance through appropriate reporting mechanisms.

The Newcastle Heraldreported on Monday that NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian's announcement that closures would ease was unlikely to benefit every business.

Ms Berejiklian said the Friday time frame would give people time to absorb what the rules meant, businesses to adapt and the government time to adjust laws that had penalised people out and about during the pandemic.