Hosts of The Project have debated whether companies should be allowed to mandate Covid-19 vaccinations for their workforce, after Qantas became the second company in Australia requiring staff to get the jab.
Waleed Aly said he’s ‘not comfortable’ with the idea that employers should be the ones to decide, insisting it is the responsibility of government.
But comedian Peter Helliar disagreed, saying hospitality bosses should have the right to make workers get the vaccine.
Comedian Peter Helliar said café owners should have the right to mandate Covid vaccines for workers. Pictured: A café in Sydney remains open during lockdown
Waleed Aly said he’s ‘not comfortable’ with the idea that employers should be the ones to decide, insisting it is the responsibility of government. Pictured: Empty tables at a cafe in Hyde Park in the central business district in Sydney Sydney, Monday, July 26, 2021
‘It should be government, but there should be some sectors that I think need to be vaccinated,’ he said.
‘Hospitality is one. If I owned a café, I’d want all my staff vaccinated because they have been through a bit.’
Channel Ten star Carrie Bickmore said mandating vaccines for some workers may be what’s needed to encourage Australians to get the jab.
‘Perhaps when it comes to employment and you realise it’s going to effect your job, that might be a different motivation the same way it is motivating people that are in lockdown and want to get out of lockdown,’ she said.
Fellow present Rachel Corbett remarked that opinions on the divisive issue are likely to vary greatly based on the number of Covid cases.
‘It depends if you’re in the mid-of an outbreak or not,’ she said.
‘You change your perspective on things when you realize that you’re really in the firing line.’
Channel Ten star Carrie Bickmore (left) said mandating vaccines for some workers may be what’s needed to encourage Australians to get the jab
Pictured: A drive through patient gets vaccinated at the new western health drive through Covid-19 vaccination centre in Sydney’s Melton, August 8, 2021.
The debate comes as Qantas announced plans to make Covid vaccinations mandatory for all employees giving staff three months to roll up their sleeves.
Frontline staff like cabin crew, pilots and airport workers numbering approximately 2000 employees will have until November 15 to get jabbed, while the 20,0000 remaining workers have until March 31 next year.
The airline announced the decision for mandatory vaccinations was made ‘as part of the national carrier’s commitment to safety’.
‘Frontline employees – including cabin crew, pilots and airport workers – will need to be fully vaccinated by 15 November 2021 and the remainder of employees by 31 March 2022,’ Qantas said in a statement.
‘There will be exemptions for those who are unable for documented medical reasons to be vaccinated, which is expected to be very rare.’
Australian airline Qantas has announced vaccinations will be mandatory for all frontline staff by November 15, with the 20,000 remaining employees to have until March 2022 to get jabbed (pictured, a Qantas plane taking off from Sydney airport in May 2021)
Qantas boss Alan Joyce (pictured) said a fully-vaccinated workforce would keep not only employees safe but their customers and the communities they fly to
The airline said the decision was made after a survey was presented to 22,000 Qantas and Jetstar employees to get their opinion on mandatory jabs.
Of the 12,000 employees who responded to the survey, 89 per cent said they had already been jabbed or had booked one.
Of that group, 60 per cent were fully vaccinated, 77 per cent had received one dose and 12 per cent were booked in or planned to do so.
Just four per cent of people were unwilling or unable get the jab, with seven per cent undecided or preferring not to say.
Of the 12,000 Qantas and Jetstar employees who responded to a survey on mandatory vaccinations, 89 per cent said they had already been jabbed or had booked one (pictured, passengers at Sydney airport in June 2021)
Of that group, 60 per cent were fully vaccinated, 77 per cent had received one dose and 12 per cent were booked in or planned to do so (pictured, passengers at Sydney airport in July)
Qantas boss Alan Joyce said having a fully vaccinated workforce will not only keep staff safe from the virus but also their customers and the communities they fly to.
‘One crew member can fly into multiple cities and come into contact with thousands of people in a single day,’ the chief executive said.
‘Making sure they are vaccinated given the potential of this virus to spread is so important, and I think it’s the kind of safety leadership people would expect from us.’
Mr Joyce said the airline had a responsibility as an essential service to help defend against snap lockdowns and border closures that came with outbreaks of the virus.
The carrier said three-quarters of its staff backed the move towards mandatory vaccines and said they would feel concerned working alongside unvaccinated colleagues.
‘Many of our people said they would feel concerned about working with unvaccinated colleagues, which is something that many workplaces across the country are grappling with,’ Mr Joyce said.
‘We understand there will be a very small number of people who decide not to get the vaccine, and that’s their right, but it’s our responsibility to provide the safest possible environment for our employees and for our customers.’
Qantas said three-quarters of its staff backed the move towards mandatory vaccines and said they would feel concerned working alongside unvaccinated colleagues (pictured, masked passengers and flight crew on a Qantas flight to Auckland from Sydney in April 2021)
Qantas is the second major Australian employer to announce mandatory vaccinations for all of its staff, following food manufacturer SPC who became the first earlier this month (pictured, passengers boarding a Qantas flight to New Zealand in April 2021)
Qantas is the second major Australian employer to announce mandatory vaccinations for all of its staff.
Earlier this month food manufacturer SPC became the first company to make a Covid-19 vaccine mandatory for all workers and visitors to its site.
The firm announced all staff and contractors at the company’s factory in Shepparton in regional Victoria must be fully vaccinated by the end of November.
Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie praised SPC for ‘having the guts’ to make vaccinations mandatory for its staff.
‘The last thing we need is for food suppliers, which are so crucial, to be shutting down,’ she told the Today show on Thursday morning.
‘I applaud them, [for] having the guts to come out and do that.’
SPC’s edict followed tech giant Microsoft announcing all employees must show proof of vaccination before entering its US offices from September.
Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie praised SPC for ‘having the guts’ to make vaccinations mandatory for its staff (pictured, a health care worker fills a syringe with a Pfizer vaccine)
SPC is Australia’s primary producer of packaged fruit and its brands include Ardmona, Goulburn Valley, SPC, ProVital, Kuisine, and PomLife.
Chairman Hussein Rifai said the emergence of the highly contagious Delta variant prompted the move – which is a first in Australia for non-health-related businesses.
‘Lockdowns are not a sustainable solution and the Australian economy needs to open up again,’ he said.
‘The Delta variant poses a significant threat to our people, our customers and the communities we serve.
‘The only path forward for our country is through vaccination.’
All SPC workers will be offered paid time off to get their vaccinations, and two days special paid leave if they become unwell afterwards.
SPC is Australia’s primary producer of packaged fruit and its brands include Ardmona, Goulburn Valley, SPC, ProVital, Kuisine, and PomLife (pictured, SC Ardmona factory)
The canned fruit and vegetable processor announced all staff and contractors at the company’s factory in Shepparton in regional Victoria must be fully vaccinated by the end of November (pictured, SPC employees leaving the Ardmona factory in Shepparton, Victoria)
SPC chief executive Robert Giles said the company was setting an example for others.
‘Australian companies must go further by rapidly vaccinating their staff,’ he said.
‘We firmly believe that it will be manufacturers and innovators like SPC who will help drive Australia’s post-Covid economic recovery.’
Last month the FairWork Ombudsman updated its advice on whether companies could mandate vaccinations among their employees.
Previously the watchdog released guidance saying that businesses were ‘overwhelmingly’ unable to require staff to get the jab.
However, the Ombudsman has now said businesses in key industries such as border control, quarantine, healthcare and aged care organisation are ‘more likely’ to enforce vaccinations for their workers.