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Brisbane hotel worker claims he was denied time for COVID-19 vaccine

The hotel’s general manager, John McIlwain, said he was surprised by the allegation.

He said a last-minute call came between 8pm and 9pm from the vaccination hub with an offer to any members who wanted to get vaccinated.

“A group discussion with four members of the same team who took the call resulted in the team deciding amongst themselves not to walk down to the BCEC and back again during their shift as there was no one to cover them and they would try another time as they were completing work and did not want to leave their department unattended at that time of evening,” he said.

The 23-year-old said, due to his age bracket, it was challenging to book a vaccine appointment and he had been trying for some time.

“Having worked in hotels during the pandemic, I can hand on heart say there have been numerous occasions where I have not felt entirely safe in such workplaces that are, to a certain degree, frontline,” he wrote.

Queensland Council of Unions general secretary Michael Clifford.

Queensland Council of Unions general secretary Michael Clifford.

He said he would not work for a business that “does not place the safety of its workers first”.

QCU general secretary Michael Clifford said it was particularly a problem for casual workers because they did not have paid or sick leave.

“[The government] can simply provide a written policy that provides that people can take paid time off to go get vaccinated,” he said.

“It’s really important because people don’t often have a lot of choice about when they’re going to get vaccinated.

“Employers and governments should be doing everything they can to remove the barriers to vaccination.”

Mr Clifford said possible disruption would be minor compared with the impacts of lockdowns, and casual workers should also be paid to get vaccinated.

“Surely we can provide a couple of hours for somebody to go and get vaccinated because that’s in everybody’s best interests,” he said.

Mr McIlwain said management was actively encouraging the team to get vaccinated and working with employees to cover their shifts when they had an appointment.

“Any views expressed about the vaccine from any member of the team are their own and whilst they are entitled to their own views on the vaccine, the management of Emporium Hotel South Bank will continue to actively encourage team members to seek their own health advice from a medical professional with regards to being vaccinated.”

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