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Union voices concerns after hotel guard reveals he did food deliveries with COVID-19

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A security guard who tested positive to COVID-19 while working at one of Melbourne’s quarantine hotels took on food delivery shifts while he had the virus, the Hotel Quarantine Inquiry heard yesterday.

The worker testified he felt unwell on the way home from a security shift and stopped to get tested.

The next morning, he woke up feeling well so did a shift as a food delivery driver.

Then he received his positive test result.

After isolating for a fortnight, he returned to food delivery work, only to be hospitalised a day later because he still had the coronavirus.

The Transport Workers’ Union says the case highlights the dangers of gig economy during the pandemic.

“For months now, since the beginning of COVID-19, we’ve been writing to these companies, these shiny new gig-economy companies, to tell them about the concerns we have,” National Secretary of the Transport Workers’ Union, Michael Kaine, told Neil Mitchell.

“What we’ve seen across this pandemic is these workers … the heroes of the pandemic, getting food to us in circumstances where we’re locked down, are really left out there unprotected.

“What we’ve got here are companies that are reaping economic benefits.”

Mr Kaine said most gig-economy food delivery giants have done nothing to protect their workers, and the government should act to force them to provide safer working conditions and paid pandemic leave.

“They’re the frontline and they need protections, and them being protected means the community is protected,” he said.

“This is a critical point the governments need to act on very, very quickly.”

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