STEPS aimed at preventing viral transmissions on Australian maritime worksites are urgently required, Maritime Union national secretary Paddy Crumlin says.

The union has written to key employers proposing the implementation of its own framework which, the union says, is based on current health advice.

Mr Crumlin said some Australian businesses, particularly stevedores, had been reluctant to meet and discuss the current situation.

“While workers are acutely aware of the significant role they play in Australia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, some stevedores had taken an unfortunate and unsustainable approach, going it alone rather than embracing a consistent industry-wide solution,” Mr Crumlin said.

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“In other areas, such as intermodal and logistics, there has been a much more mature approach.

“That is why we are seeking to urgently meet with key businesses, in particular stevedores, to implement a clear, concise, consistent framework that addresses the identifiable health and safety risks this pandemic poses and acts on the advice of the chief medical officer.”

Mr Crumlin said the scale of this crisis placed a collective responsibility on industry to show leadership.

“Thousands of maritime workers — including tug crews towing ships, linesmen tying them up, and wharfies loading and unloading them — are on the front line ensuring the current health and economic crisis isn’t exacerbated by the breakdown of supply chains,” he said.

“While our members remain committed to ensuring freight continues to move smoothly during this pandemic, this can only be achieved if the industry embraces appropriate measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on worksites,” he said. “We are urging all maritime employers to work with us to implement these protocols to minimise the risk of infection to workers or the general public.”

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