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Virgin follows Qantas to make vaccines mandatory

written by Adam Thorn | August 30, 2021
A Virgin Australia Boeing 737-800 Hobart
A Virgin Australia Boeing 737-800 arrives at Hobart Airport (Craig Murray)

Virgin Australia is planning to make vaccines mandatory for customer-facing staff by 15 November and office-based employees by 31 March.

The business said that it would first consult with unions before deciding a final policy.

It follows criticism from the TWU of Qantas that its similar announcement “jumped the gun” by apparently not speaking to staff first.

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Virgin Australia chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka said inoculations are the “the only way back to normal freedom of movement” and the “only solution to the situation Australia currently finds itself in”.

“The majority of our team at Virgin Australia are already vaccinated, and we will be listening to our team members to ensure we find the best fit policy for our organisation,” she said.

“We know that some team members have questions and concerns about vaccinations.  Through an internal campaign of education with qualified experts, we aim to inform and assure as many of our team members as possible.

“We trust medical experts, their advice and the evidence that shows that vaccines save lives and reduce hospitalisation rates.

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“Virgin Australia recognises the critical imperative to get the broader community vaccinated and will launch a competition this week to encourage as many people as we can to roll up their sleeves. We are also supportive of government-led measures to ensure travellers are vaccinated.”

The business said a recent survey of team members found that over 75 per cent of frontline staff had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with another 9 per cent registered.

Earlier this month, Qantas said it would mandate cabin crew, pilots and airport ground workers to be fully vaccinated against COVID from 15 November 2021, while the remaining workforce will have until 31 March 2022 to get the jab.

Qantas noted that there will be exemptions offered to those who are unable to receive the vaccine “for documented medical reasons”, which the airline expects to be a “very rare” instance.

The TWU, however, said Qantas failed to consult with its workers before making the move.

The union said employees are still concerned about the difficulties in accessing a jab or losing pay as a result of taking time off.

Qantas, however, said earlier that 89 per cent of its staff had either been inoculated or were planning to be, and a survey revealed three-quarters of employees supported the decision.

The TWU’s national secretary, Michael Kaine, said the “snap announcement” was completely void of a plan.

“Workers have spoken out about the difficulties they’ve faced accessing the vaccine, but Qantas has refused to listen,” said Kaine. “Qantas’ own survey shows vaccine hesitancy is extremely low, yet Qantas has pushed ahead with another unilateral decision that will heap unnecessary stress onto workers.

“Qantas knows that workers are worried about losing out on pay or shifts that could earn them penalty rates while trying to get vaccinated and recovering from side effects.”

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3 Comments

  • Rocket

    says:

    Let’s make a prediction.

    The Chairman of Rex will come out tomorrow lambasting QF and VA for this move, saying it’s a breach of natural justice and the two airlines are both horrible and his airline is all about choice…….

    Then a week later, he will announce Rex is doing the same thing….

    • Vannus

      says:

      Strangely enough, Rocket, he’s not been saying too much of late, as his airline is in an abysmal depth of financial woes.

      Karma, in an extraordinary turn, has come back at him, for all the verbal ‘treatment’ he’s given QANTAS, since March 2020, & Virgin, latterly.
      One can’t be an arrogant so& so, spouting false allegations’ etc, against others’, & not expect ‘something’ in return.

      Let’s see what happens……

      • Rocket

        says:

        Spot on Vannus……. he has been very quiet of late, oh karma is a wonderful thing…. he’s so loud mouthed I almost put him in the same category as Clive Palmer for BS….

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