COVID-19

Virgin Australia set to follow Qantas with jabs

The airline proposes frontline workers should be jabbed by November 15 and administrative staff by March 2022 – bringing them into line with Qantas.Employees with medical issues preventing them from receiving Covid-19 vaccinations would be managed on a case-by-case basis, the airline said in a statement.Virgin said its consultation process would involve unions and employer groups, and a final policy decision would be made next month. A recent survey of Virgin Australia team members found more than three in four (75 per cent) of frontline staff had already received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with another 9 per cent registered to do so. Among its office-based workers (who did not have the same priority access to jabs), more than 56 per cent had already had at least one dose, and a further 27 per cent were booked in for vaccination.Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka said vaccinations were vital for airline staff, given their high levels of exposure to the public in the course of their jobs.“It is clear that vaccination is the only way back to normal freedom of movement and the richness in life that comes from spending meaningful, in person time with family, friends and colleagues,” she said.Qantas is not the only player in the tourism industry mandating jabs for its workers. Last Friday cruise line P & O said it would make Covid-19 vaccinations compulsory for both staff and passengers when cruising resumes.A recent survey by Bastion Insights showed three in four Australians (75 per cent) supported mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations for international travel. For domestic travel, the support was still strong, at 60 per cent. .NAB GIVES WORKERS JABSNational Australia Bank has begun administering its own Covid-19 vaccination program for staff.CEO Ross McEwan has written to employees telling them the bank would launch a pilot program offering them AstraZeneca jabs, in partnership with the Department of Health and the company’s regular flu vaccination provider.Mr McEwan said the pilot project would be in the areas of Sydney currently hardest hit by the outbreak, and would eventually be rolled out across the country.The jabs would be made available to all staff as well as adult members of their families, he said.A NAB spokesperson said the location of the first vaccination centres had yet to be finalised but they could be in the bank’s business centres in western Sydney, including Parramatta.The first doses are expected to be given late next week.“We will expand the program to offer more vaccines, in more buildings, to more colleagues right across Australia,” Mr McEwan said in his letter to staff. “We’re still working through the details but will make that happen as soon as we can.”Mr McEwan said he felt “incredibly grateful” to be fully vaccinated and he wanted to help “every colleague access the same level of protection, and in turn, play our part in protecting the community”.The National Australia Bank program follows increasing moves by the corporate sector to encourage Covid-19 vaccinations, through measures such as offering space for public vaccinations in the case of the Scentre Group (owners of Westfield Shopping Centres), or even mandating the jabs for workers, in the case of Qantas this week.Mr McEwan applauded Qantas’s move in his letter to staff, and said that like aviation, banking was an industry “where customers and colleagues engage … closely together.”NAB had already been incentivising Covid-19 vaccinations among staff by offering to pay for one vaccination in neighbouring countries for every employee who registered their own jab.“It’s been great to see more than 2600 NAB colleagues already register their vaccination so NAB can pay a vaccine forward to our neighbouring countries in need like Fiji or PNG as part of UNICEF’s Give the World a Shot campaign,” Mr McEwan said in his letter to staff. The NAB move follows an open letter to Australian businesses penned by News Corp Australasia executive chairman Michael Miller which urged them to raise their voices and demand a national co-ordinated response to get the country back to full capacity. Mr Miller called on businesses to share their plans by emailing [email protected] – and the responses has started flooding in.“We are a 100% privately owned Australian company with 1,300 employees in Australia & New Zealand,” Hume Doors & Timber general manager Eddie Luke wrote.“With our Head Office situated in a LGA of concern, we have been very proactive in strongly recommending for all our employees to get vaccinated,” Mr Luke said.“As we have a large proportion of our workforce whose second language is English we have translated and verbalised our strong recommendations in a number of languages.”Brisbane hairdresser Mikayla Auld of M.A.H said they made the decision in early July to incentivise the Covid-19 vaccine.“It has been heartbreaking to witness the devastating effect that the pandemic has had on people’s livelihoods and wellbeing,” Ms Auld wrote.“As a business owner and hairdresser, I have endless conversations daily with many about the difficulties that come from living through a pandemic. The inability to plan ahead, the irrevocable damage it has on small businesses, the unlikelihood of people being able to see loved ones for long periods of time – and so the list goes on“The business now offers anyone who has been vaccinated with a one-off 15 per cent discount – and the chance to go into the draw to win a $500 voucher.”“For us, it wasn’t so much that we thought our community would view it as an amazing deal, that was not to be missed but rather an opportunity for our staff and clients to feel comfortable in going out to get vaccinated. We wanted to create a safe space to spread vaccine positivity and hoped to instil some hope and inspire a push for solidarity.”

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