Forty-one biosecurity and border control staff at Tasmanian airports and the Spirit terminal have lost their jobs just over a month after they were hired on contracts.
Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania - formerly DPIPWE - hired the workers on 50-hour contracts in the lead-up to the border reopening on December 15 to cope with an increased workload due to checks on all arrivals.
But the rapid scaling back of these checking requirements - such as the removal of the G2G PASS system - after COVID entered the state meant there was not as much need for the increased workforce.
The Community and Public Sector Union Tasmania received confirmation that the workers had been "let go" on January 25, and those affected had been chosen on a "last in, first out" basis mainly at Hobart and Launceston airports, and the Spirit of Tasmania terminal in Devonport.
CPSU organiser Michael McLoughlin said the 41 constituted the majority of those hired for the border reopening, but some remained as part of a COVID border control team.
"You've got 41 workers who are now without work," Mr McLoughlin said.
"There were initial issues around the facilities being unable to deal with the level of staffing - they were working in tents, had little access to toilets or lunchbreak rooms - that only slowly got addressed.
"The issue is: can we now use any crisis as a reason not to hire people in permanent ongoing work? Are we happy with a workforce that's easily disposable like this?"
The CPSU negotiated for a commitment that some workers would be moved onto part-time contracts, but this only applied for those working for at least six months. The union claimed it was expecting a plan from the department to define groups of employees, but they were instead fired without consulting with the union.
Checks on arrivals at the border moved from a blanket approach to spot-checking soon after the border reopened, apart from more stringent checks on international arrivals.
An NRE Tasmania spokesperson said the department was "facilitating potential re-employment opportunities" with other agencies, they were "encouraged" to apply for other vacancies in the department and had been offered counselling.
"The Government recently announced that from 19 January 2022, fully vaccinated travellers who have spent time in low or high-risk areas are no longer required to register their travel or undertake pre-departure COVID-19 testing when travelling to Tasmania," the spokesperson said.
"Given this change to the border process and the reduction in associated workload, there is no longer a need for some of the additional staff who were taken on for the 15 December border re-opening."
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