Eight biosecurity workers at Launceston Airport walked off the job for an hour on Tuesday morning in protest against their continued insecure contracts.
The Community and Public Sector Union Tasmania members carry out checks on G2G Passes and vaccination certificates upon arrival in Launceston, and chose to take action between 10.45am and 11.45am to minimise disruptions.
The workers are concerned that they are on contracts that only guarantee 50 hours per year, meaning they could be sacked at any time and have no guaranteed hours. They also do not receive casual loading despite effectively working casual hours, but do receive leave entitlements.
CPSU Tasmania organiser Michael McLoughlin said it meant the workers had to take second job, resulting in concerns for their income should they be required to quarantine.
"We'd like to see workers that have been keeping Tasmania's borders safe to be converted to permanent ongoing contracts with hours based on how many hours they've been doing thus far," he said.
The CPSU has been calling on the government to guarantee workers get paid for every day they are in quarantine, rather than only for the shifts they miss.
CPSU Tasmania secretary Thirza White said this demand was due to workers missing out on shifts at their second jobs, and also as recognition for the inconvenience of having to quarantine.
"Many of these workers don't want to work part-time, and they have to take on second jobs," she said.
"If someone is one the frontline and they're exposed to COVID at work, then have to sit for two weeks away from their families in a hotel, they should be paid for every day that they're in quarantine."
The action was only carried out at Launceston, due to the excessive level of disruption that would occur at Hobart International Airport if biosecurity workers walked off the job.
The government has also advertised for biosecurity staff for six weeks via labour hire firms Hays and Searson Buck, but Premier Peter Gutwein could not outline how many additional workers were needed.
Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania - formerly DPIPWE - put out a call last week for internal applications to train as senior biosecurity officers, to start on the job on Wednesday.
The union sent a letter to Mr Gutwein on Sunday raising concerns about conditions for workers in airports, including a shortage of toilets, tearoom facilities and the ability to access enough water.
Mr Gutwein said he disagreed with the union's demand for biosecurity workers to be paid for every day they were in quarantine.
"We've had this discussion in terms of extending contracts out to 12 months. But still, the sticking point [is] in terms of the doubling of part-time wage should they need to go into quarantine," he said.
"What the union is demanding on the eve of our borders opening [is] for those employees that are employed part-time, that should they need to go into a period of quarantine, that they be paid a full-time rate.
"I think that is unreasonable, I think most Tasmanians would view that as unreasonable.
"We don't believe that that's fair, and I think that this is the union very irresponsibly chancing its arm on the eve of the borders opening up."
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