The state government is in talks with the Transport Workers Union about mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for interstate truck drivers.
The state government has revealed it is in talks with the Transport Workers Union about mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for interstate truck drivers.
During a press conference yesterday, Premier Mark McGowan told reporters the state’s chief health officer had met with union officials this week about the mandatory vaccination of interstate truck drivers.
For the past 18 months, truck drivers entering WA have been required to present for testing on a weekly basis and wear a mask upon arrival.
But this week, Mr McGowan said the state government had discussed a move to make the vaccine mandatory for interstate transport workers, with a view to reaching an outcome as soon as possible.
It is understood the talks are 'ongoing'.
Health Minister Roger Cook said there was a large element of risk associated with interstate freight and pushed for those in the industry to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
“All of those outwardly facing industries, particularly in relation to our export industries and our freight and logistics industries, are industries that we need to keep working,” he said.
“But there are also large elements of risk in that.
“We need to ensure we continue working with those industries to understand how we can get better penetration of vaccines right across their workforces.
“There is a lot of work being done in the background to ensure that we understand the extent to which vaccines have taken hold in those industries, but also understand what more we can do to get people in those industries vaccinated.”
The talks come more than a week after the union warned WA could be cut off from essential supplies after it closed its border to unvaccinated transport workers travelling from the eastern states.
Under the state government’s new controlled border arrangement, truck drivers and aviation crew travelling to WA from states deemed ‘high risk’ are required to present proof of at least one dose of a COVID-19.
The changes prompted the union to request national vaccine priority for the industry, and came amid the release of a new survey which revealed one in two transport workers were not vaccinated.
Of the 1,000 survey respondents, one-third identified limited appointment times as key barriers to vaccination, while others said it was too difficult to book appointments due to irregular work patterns.
The mandating of vaccinations for various industries, including freight and mining, has been the subject of much debate over the past few months.
Just last week, QANTAS announced it would make vaccination against COVID-19 mandatory for all staff, with pilots, cabin crew and airport staff required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 within three months.
All other staff will be required to have both doses by March 31.