Dairy giant Fonterra exposed Tasmania to needless coronavirus risk by bringing Victorian workers to its Spreyton site, a union says.
"Workers at the plant are worried about allowing people in from interstate, especially from Victoria," Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union state secretary John Short said on Wednesday.
"People are genuinely concerned about it.
"It's really just slack border controls, especially from Victoria, where they're still getting new cases on a daily basis."
Mr Short understood Fonterra had brought in two workers for particular work.
He said Fonterra had suggested Tasmania did not have tradespeople capable of doing the particular work, but the union strongly disagreed.
"Our understanding is it's technical, but it's mechanical work and there would be people in Tasmania capable of doing that work," Mr Short said.
He said the union understood the company had not planned to get the workers quarantined or tested for the virus before they arrived at the site, and had aimed to have them classified as essential workers.
Fonterra Spreyton site manager Douglas Overdijk said the Spreyton butter plant was in its annual shutdown and works were under way to make sure the site was running efficiently to continue as an essential service.
"During this shutdown, our butter equipment is being serviced, requiring specialist contractors who are familiar with the equipment on site," Mr Overdijk said.
"These technicians are specifically qualified in the performance of this service and are employed through the contracted service company for the equipment.
"As this service isn't available in Tasmania, we've needed to bring these specialists in from Victoria."
He said Fonterra took COVID-19 and its responsibility as an essential service very seriously.
"In accordance with government requirements, these specialists have been granted an exemption by the Tasmanian government and were deemed to be an essential service and, therefore, are not required to quarantine for 14 days on arrival," he said.
"However, they must still comply with listed quarantine conditions.
"As a food manufacturer, we have stringent protocols and measures in place to help stop the spread of COVID-19, including the completion of a health declaration form for contractors prior to attending site, daily temperature checks on arrival to site, social distancing, separate facilities provided for these contractors, along with increased cleaning and sanitisation of our work areas."
He said most of the butter plant workers were on annual leave.
Mr Short said the union knew of many Tasmanian companies which were not letting even Tasmanian contract workers onto their sites in an effort to reduce coronavirus risk.
"They see it as being too risky," he said.
"Why would you take the risk if you didn't need to, and especially on the North-West Coast when it's had a real bad run?
"You've just come out of that bit of a crisis on the North-West Coast.
"Why would you put that at risk again?
"We've been able to contain it by closing the borders; in this sort of situation, why would you open them?"
Mr Short was hopeful the nation would be past the pandemic period soon.