Unvaccinated shearers continue to work

Unvaccinated shearers continue to work

Sheep
DOSE: Shearers are working without the jab.

DOSE: Shearers are working without the jab.

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Friday marks the double-dose deadline.

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Unvaccinated shearers are continuing to work, despite Victoria's sweeping effort to compel most agricultural workers to receive two doses of the coronavirus vaccine before Friday.

Victorian shearing contractors have complained to Shearers Contractors' Association of Australia secretary Jason Letchford about unvaccinated shearers and shed staff continuing work in a "concerning cash economy".

"I thought the way it would roll would be that unvaccinated shearers would find work in NSW, but the concern I have is they have stayed and they are finding enough work in Victoria," Mr Letchford said.

"We have tried the positive approach with these people who are resistant to being vaccinated.

"We may need to have enforcement of regulation in order to ensure the ag industry is safe for when the next wave of COVID comes through, which is only a matter of time, and we need to be prepared for that with a very high vaccinated workforce."

From Friday, all authorised workers, including farmers, abattoirs, saleyards and agricultural workers, are required to be double dosed to work.

Farmers who employ unvaccinated workers in Victoria could be hit with fines of over $21,000, or $100,000 for their company.

"These fines can put someone out of business," Mr Letchford said.

"We also have a social responsibility - what we have seen in Europe is the unvaccinated stop the economy and make us go into lockdown again, and that is a great concern to us.

"These shearers must be getting paid in a cash, otherwise you have a bank account showing you have paid an unvaccinated person and getting away with that seems unlikely."

He said some farmers had been "wrongly advised" and were employing unvaccinated shearers using an employee's ABN, however "the buck stops with the employer, not the worker".

"The regulations are clear, if you're engaging that person to do the work, you are employing them regardless," he said.

Mr Letchford warned growers would be liable if an unvaccinated shearer spread COVID-19 to colleagues.

He said the vaccine mandate had since triggered a bidding war in the shearing industry, as an estimated 10 per cent of Victoria's 700 shearers remained unvaccinated.

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