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Hospo union calls for increased worker protections during COVID-19 recovery

The Hospo Workers Union (HWU) is calling for greater attention to be paid to the health and safety of workers on May Day, including a government supply of primary protective equipment to workers of all businesses operating during the pandemic alert plan.

While we may have avoided a significant ‘first wave’ of COVID-19, many hospitality and other workers are now actually at greater health and safety risk due to increased opportunity for exposure to COVID-19.

Zebedee Schrader, Secretary of the Hospo Workers Union and a hospitality worker in Wellington said, “After over a month of cooking their own food, Kiwis are now re-discovering why our country is known for its culinary scene. As the crowds outside restaurants have shown, hospitality is fast becoming a de facto essential service for Kiwis. It is important that hospo workers and businesses get the support they need to not put any workers’ health at risk.”

The Hospo Workers Union has a small supply of PPE available to its members, but a comprehensive response requires a government-level solution. Many restaurants are small, owner-operated businesses who cannot adequately source PPE which is in already scarce supply. 

“Prime Minister Ardern and the Government have been providing excellent leadership through these uncertain times and ensuring Aoteaoa has the best response possible to the COVID-19 crisis. This has had great success, and we believe this small measure simply makes our collective response even stronger. We need to have the backs of everyone on our five-million strong team,” continued Schrader.

The Employment Relations Act 2000 provides a framework within which workers are allowed to take industrial action for health and safety purposes. To ensure healthy and harmonious workplaces, the Government needs to do more to provide workers and businesses, particularly in hospitality, with the protection required.

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