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AWU provides advice for shearers on COVID-19 outbreak

March 26, 2020

Working during the coronavirus pandemic

Work can continue in shearing, provided it is safe to do so.

We are advising members to observe social distancing guidelines and observe the advice of health authorities. Where there is an opportunity to use unused stands further apart, for example, this should be done.

The AWU reminds members that the award contains provision for an hourly rate for shearers, and where necessary altered work patterns are adopted, shearers should be paid the hourly rate rather than the per sheep rate.

Members who are camped out should consider messing separately, taking turns to eat, and avoiding close socialising of an evening.

What happens next

Shearing is currently listed as an essential industry under ‘Level 2’ restrictions through the Agricultural business listing. The AWU is working with employers and government to ensure our industry has a COVID-19 protocol that is sufficient for shearing to maintain an essential listing under Level 3 restrictions.

We believe it can and should be possible to continue shearing during the COVID-19 crisis as long as it is done safely.

We are fighting hard to make sure that the industry is deemed essential in the case of any further lock downs.

However, if the industry is shut down, the AWU calls on the government and employers to ensure that workers and contractors who are affected are fairly compensated and their employment arrangements are retained for after the crisis is over. It’s also vital that mental health support is readily available to shearers who want it.

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