Woolworths, Coles, Metcash and ALDI are working together to protect their workers by creating pop-up vaccination clinics at distribution centres in south-west Sydney.
In a joint statement, the employers said they had secured special access to vaccines for their workers, specifically those in Fairfield, Liverpool, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland and Blacktown.
“A highly targeted COVID-19 vaccine rollout has been developed for workers at critical food distribution centres for NSW, and those who work in supermarkets within the five designated LGAs,” they announced.
“Increasing the rate of vaccination among teams in these stores will not only play a role in helping western Sydney communities reduce the spread, but also protect access to food and essentials for local residents.”
The first workplace vaccination hub has opened at the Metcash distribution centre in Huntingwood, with most of the 400 staff agreeing to have the jab.
Among them was driver Brent Arrowsmith (above), who told Seven News that he was keen to be vaccinated because he drives “2000-3000km a week, all over the countryside”.
In a statement sent to workers, Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci (above) said that pop-up clinics would also be developed at its distribution centres in Yennora, Minchinbury and Lidcombe.
“Once established, we expect all team members working on-site at these locations to have access to the clinics and vaccinations,” he said. “It is now clear that accelerating the rate of vaccination in Australia is key to protecting our communities and loved ones and the easing of restrictions.”
Additionally, Woolworths is providing up to eight hours of paid leave for full-time and part-time staff to get vaccinated. It is also using social distancing wristbands, which alert team members if they’re within 1.5m of another person. They can also assist with precise contract tracing if required.
Supermarket workers in south-west Sydney will also soon have priority access to the Pfizer vaccine appointments at the Sydney Olympic Park mass vaccination hub.
Bernie Smith, the NSW secretary for the SDA, the union for retail, fast food and warehouse workers, told The Guardian: “The union congratulates the retailers on securing this priority access to Pfizer vaccines for essential workers in these supermarkets, online retail centres and warehouses.
“This is a significant breakthrough in protecting the health of frontline retail workers, ensuring the community retains access to the essentials of life during the protracted lockdown in Australia’s biggest city.
“All supermarket, petrol station and warehouse workers must get priority access to age appropriate vaccines.”