30/04/2021 | Rob Lucas MLC

State Government has welcomed a decision today by the independent South Australian Employment Tribunal to order the United Workers Union (UWU) to immediately cease its ill-considered cleaning bans in our hospitals due to the significant risk to patient and staff safety.

The Tribunal has ordered the UWU to immediately lift over 20 bans at several sites, including the Flinders Medical Centre, Lyell McEwin Hospital, the Repat and several regional hospitals, such as refusing to wipe down operating theatre trolleys, not properly conducting food safety temperature checks and not cleaning beds.

SA Health’s advice on these bans has been clear:

  • Cleaning bans may pose a risk to patient and staff safety in regard to increased reservoirs for infectious particles as well as transmission via fomites (objects or materials which may carry infection);
  • There may also be a risk of bed block due to the non-cleaning of beds, as unclean beds cannot be used; and
  • Food safety issues may arise due to the ban on undertaking the required food safety temperature checks.

“The Government sought orders from the SA Employment Tribunal for the industrial action to cease immediately because it ran counter to the expert health advice we received,” Treasurer Rob Lucas said.

“We all have a responsibility to keep our state safe during this global COVID-19 pandemic. South Australia’s handling of the pandemic has been marked by an outstanding public health response and the South Australian community’s collective efforts in keeping our state safe.

“The Government is pleased that the disgraceful actions of the union bosses, which would have undermined our excellent public health response, have been ordered to cease by the independent umpire today.

“The union bosses are so out of touch that they thought it appropriate to implement bans that would put patient, staff and public health and safety at risk to put pressure on the Government to agree to their demands – it’s now incumbent on the UWU to instead do the right thing and come to the table and negotiate in good faith.

“The Government has always been willing to engage in sensible discussions with the union and looks forward to engaging in mediation before the Tribunal on Wednesday next week.”