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  • Jason Regan

Woolies suspends supplier after union row

Woolworths has suspended arrangements with one of its main suppliers after Australia's peak union body claimed the abattoir made COVID-positive employees keep on working.  

ACTU president Michele O'Neil on Saturday called on the supermarket giant to take action after Teys Australia workers in South Australia were directed to wear coloured hairnets to indicate their infection status.

"Woolworths is turning a blind eye to the exploitation of workers by a major food supplier in the supermarket's supply chain ... who are forcing workers to continue turning up for work even though they are infected," she said in a statement.

Ms O'Neil said the practice was demeaning but staff were reticent to take a stand.

Woolworths on Sunday rejected the claims, saying it had not been involved in a decision approved by authorities to introduce exceptional temporary COVID measures at the abattoir last week.

It said had decided to suspend "all supply through Tey's South Australian facility while we work with Teys, SA Health and Safework SA to understand the protocols currently in place for their team and operations".

Tey's Australia has hit back claims that workers were forced to come in when sick with COVID-19. In a statement released on Saturday Tey's stated only asymptomatic workers in critical roles continued to work and they were seperated from the rest of the plants workers.

It's understood health officials approved the exceptional arrangements at the Naracoorte abattoir between Monday and Thursday last week to avoid significant loss of unprocessed beef.

No Woolworths-sourced cattle are currently at the site and it has ceased servicing the retail chain's meat requirements.

Woolies says it will process meat via a number of other abattoirs across the country and source additional supply from partners until it can be satisfied by the measures in place at Teys under the guidelines of health authorities.


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