"The only thing that is real and practical in the latest union demands related to living and working with COVID is that there should be far greater availability of Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs). The ACTU's demands divert from common sense. The idea that employers should bear the costs for potentially limitless test kits is unworkable and demonstrates the lack of understanding of the pressures businesses are under. Many businesses are struggling to survive and to preserve the jobs of their employees,” Innes Willox Chief Executive of the national employer association Ai Group said.

"The ACTU's claim for all employers to provide free RATs to their employees once supply issues are resolved, in addition to upgraded masks and improved ventilation, fails to take into account that the measures that are reasonably practicable to address WHS risks will differ from workplace to workplace. One size does not fit all.

"Employers in consultation with their workers are responsible for ensuring the work health and safety of their employees and they take this responsibility very seriously. The legislation requires that employers assess risks and implement effective controls. Appropriate controls will differ from workplace to workplace depending upon the nature of the employer's operations and other factors.

"While of course workers cannot be required to work in an unsafe situation, the ACTU’s threats of work stoppages are not appropriate.  Also ‘cookie cutter’ approaches to controlling COVID-19 risks in workplaces are not helpful.

"Instead of issuing edicts from afar that inflame the situation, add to uncertainty and which, if adopted would make things worse for employers, employees and the economy, we should allow employers to continue to calmly take sensible measures to maintain COVID safe workplaces," Mr Willox said.

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