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The Victoria state government has told all authorised workers, which includes all manufacturing, such as print, that they must have at least one Covid jab by 15 October, and the second by 26 November, to carry on with their jobs.

No jab no work: Debate
No jab no work: print in Victoria

State premier Daniel Andrews laid down the mandate as Victoria battles escalating case numbers, while setting an opening up date of October 26 once 70 per cent double dose is reached. The mandate will encompass between one million and 1.25 million authorised workers in Victoria, many of whom have already had their first dose.

It does not apply to staff who are working from home, only to those who go on site. Under present directives staff who can work from home are still encouraged to do so.

Andrews said, "This is critically important to keep the case numbers down so that we can open up on October 26, get our freedom back, get the economy going again and deliver the national plan.”

Print business staff fall under the “all manufacturing” category on the Victoria authorised worker list. It is under this category that print businesses have been able to keep operating during the various lockdowns.

Walter Kuhn, president of PVCA said, “The mandate is clear, all staff working on site at print businesses in Victoria now need to be vaccinated by the required dates to be able to continue to come to work.

“The mandate takes the liability for print business owners that want their staff vaccinated off them and onto the state government. In other states that have not yet mandated vaccination, liability remains with the employer if the business mandates vaccination.”

Charles Watson, general manager, IR, policy and governance, at TRMC said, "Victorian print staff are in the authorised worker category. We assume the entire industry is under that authorised worker sector. That does mean that print staff will need to meet the vaccination deadines to be able to continue to come to work."

Watson said TRMC is waiting to see the full detail of the health directive, but he said, "Based on what we have seen before, we anticipate that employers will have an obligation to check and record the evidence of vaccination status of all of their staff."

Staff that cannot show evidence of vaccination are not to be allowed into the workplace, a directive that could lead to some more than awkward confrontations. However because it is a state government mandate, any court challenge will be between the member of staff and the state government, not the employer.

Print businesses in the other states and territories face a complex and evolving situation if they mandate vaccinations in the workplace. So far News Ltd in Chullora, NSW, is the biggest print site to mandate no jab no work. Watson said, "Without a government mandate, as is still the case in the majority of states and territories, any court challenge will be between the employer and the employee."

Victorian teacher Belinda Carter has become the first person to take the Victorian state government to court over its mandatory vaccination policy. The trial before the Supreme Court wll be held on 25 October. Carter will argue it is not legal, or ethical, and takes no account of her human rights.

Print21 understands from talking to printers and print associations that print staff have been getting vaccinated in large numbers, with print bosses doing all they can to encourge staff to get the jab.




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