Moreland city councillor Sue Bolton has added her support to Retail and Fast Food Workers Union’s (RAFFWU) calls for WorkSafe to investigate a McDonald’s fast food outlet in Fawkner, which did not shut down after a worker tested positive for COVID-19 on May 5.
On May 18, 12 McDonald’s outlets across Melbourne’s north and west had been closed, and almost 1000 workers asked to self-isolate after a delivery driver tested positive.
“The McCluster from Fawkner has spread to Craigieburn and has now hit 12 other outlets”, RAFFWU said. “Over 1000 workers have been stood down without pay. Many outlets remain without any hand sanitiser and all others have ineffective hand rub.”
“Worksafe and Safework authorities must intervene and McDonald’s must pay all its workers — including casual workers — who it has put at risk,” RAFFWU said.
Bolton said that McDonald’s should be liable for putting precarious workers at risk because it has not provided a safe workplace.
“Because McDonald’s decided not to shut its Fawkner restaurant for a deep clean after the first worker tested positive, it put the safety of workers and the general public at risk”, Bolton said.
The store closed, temporarily, for a deep clean only after the second worker tested positive. There are now 12 positive cases linked to the store.
Fawkner McDonald’s is located just outside Moreland city council’s north-east ward where Bolton is a socialist councillor. Some of the fast food workers live in Bolton's ward.
McDonald’s has now re-opened the drive-through part of the restaurant, Bolton said.
“The company has said that it is safe for workers to return, but that they cannot work at other stores.
“But the question remains: is it safe or not for the workers and the public,” Bolton said. “The company can’t have it both ways. If it’s not safe for these workers to work at other stores, it is not safe for them to work at the Fawkner store.”
WorkSafe said it is still determining whether a full investigation into McDonald’s actions is needed.
McDonald’s says that it has closed the stores “out of an abundance of caution”, and is deep cleaning 12 outlets.
Bolton said that there should be a WorkSafe investigation because otherwise employers are opening up their businesses as if it was a return to “normal”.
“There can be no such ‘snap back’ because health authorities have advised that the virus is now out in the community. Unscrupulous employers are using casual workers’ and others financial desperation as an excuse to get them working, but in unsafe conditions.”
Cedar Meats, Hutchison Ports Australia and Qantas are all risking workers’ health by not immediately notifying workers of a positive diagnosis in the workplace, and not acting quickly enough to implement safe health practices in the workplace, Bolton said.