Latest Pacific National News
Sep 8, 2021
. “We’re calling on the Australian and the NSW governments to help push them to the front of the queue.” Rail freight group Pacific National wants regional NSW employees to get priority access to vaccines. Ryan Stuart This includes workers who operate weekly freight services between towns in regional NSW such as Parkes and Taree to Pacific National freight hubs like Chullora, which is in one of the state’s local government areas “of concern” that have high COVID-19 infection rates. While essential rail freight workers who live in one of the 12 Sydney local government areas of concern do have priority access to Pfizer vaccines, regionally based crews do not. Advertisement Some of Pacific National’s NSW regional workers who have booked their first Pfizer jab are waiting up to two months to actually get it, while others have been unable to secure an appointment, Mr Scurrah said. “They are actually finding it really difficult to access the vaccination.” Pacific National is offering its frontline workers, which include train drivers and depot and maintenance workers, cash payments of $180 if they get vaccinated to compensate for any loss of income if they have to cut short work shifts. The rail group has some 2300 frontline workers out of a total workforce of 3314. The push to get workers vaccinated comes as transport companies work flat out to move goods around Australia due to booming demand for consumer goods as well as raw materials like steel, which Pacific National hauls. “There is very strong demand, we’ve effectively been operating at peak capacity for the entire year,” Mr Scurrah said, adding that the rail group would expand its haulage capacity over the next 12 months. Advertisement Other logistics groups are also giving workers incentives to get vaccinated. Toll Group, which has more than 9000 employees in Australia, will give workers who prove they are fully vaccinated a chance to win prizes in a monthly draw including $500 grocery and fuel vouchers. Toll, which is giving workers up to 4 hours of paid leave to attend vaccination appointments, said it was “overwhelmed by the response” when it started the incentive program last week. The company said it did not know how many employees had been jabbed and did not keep records but wanted workers to be fully vaccinated as soon as possible. It is also considering vaccinating workers on its worksites. “We have offered some of our key sites to state and federal governments to use as vaccination hubs and discussions continue,” a Toll spokesman said. Linfox said that “a large portion” of its 8,000 workers in Australia and New Zealand had received at least one dose of the vaccine and that more than 2,000 had used the trucking group’s pop-up vaccination hub in Erskine Park west of Sydney. Another pop-up hub is planned for Melbourne when more doses of Pfizer arrive. Advertisement The Transport Workers Union (TWU) claims that half of all workers in aviation and road transport had not received even one dose of a vaccine in July and August. Surveys show there are several barriers to getting vaccinated including difficulties in finding time, fear of losing pay, and appointment shortages, according to the TWU. The TWU and the Australian Road Transport Industrial Organisation have written to National Cabinet asking for the establishment of a ‘Transport Roadmap’ out of COVID-19 involving rapid antigen testing, vaccination hubs and a national aviation plan to test passengers and crew before they board flights and retain skilled airport workers. “Partnering vaccination access with rapid antigen testing can give workers and the community the greatest confidence that appropriate safeguards are in place as the country reopens,” said TWU national secretary Michael Kaine. The biggest stories in business, markets and politics and why they matter. Need to know. Our daily reporting, in your inbox.