Sydney workers at Woolworths, Coles, Aldi and Metcash will gain priority access to Pfizer vaccines after the companies secured essential worker categorisations for staff.
The supermarkets have been fighting for the classification as retail staff have high levels of interaction with the public, and have even been abused and spat on by disgruntled shoppers.
“This is a significant breakthrough in protecting the health of frontline retail workers ensuring the community retains access to the essentials of life during the protracted lockdown in Australia’s biggest city,” said NSW secretary of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association (SDA) Bernie Smith on Monday.
“The Commonwealth and State Governments must now recognise the essential work of all supermarket and warehouse workers. They have done an incredible job on the frontline of the pandemic, working day in and day out to keep up an essential service.”
Smith said the categorisation should now be extended to all supermarket workers, petrol workers and warehouse workers.
“We’ve seen how transmissible the Delta variant is, and how many retail outlets have been visited by COVID-19 infected shoppers in NSW,” he said.
“If vaccine supply is still tight, the SDA calls on the NSW Government to offer first priority to all supermarket and warehouse workers living and working in the five locked down LGAs for age appropriate vaccines.
“But then all supermarket and warehouse workers must get priority access as soon as possible.”
The state’s vaccine rollout has previously focused on delivering vaccines to older and more vulnerable Australians, and frontline health workers.
However, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant last week urged the Federal Government to include retail workers in this stage of the roll-out, along with people who live in the south-west Sydney hotspots.
Industry groups including those representing real estate agents, construction workers, cleaners, delivery drivers and telecommunications repair workers have also called for essential worker classification to be extended to their members.