Not yet 'no vax, no work' for NSW tradies but their work capacity has been halved

BACK TO WORK: 4 Corners Carpentry owner Dritan Mimini was looking forward to getting back on the tools on Wednesday. Picture: Sylvia Liber
BACK TO WORK: 4 Corners Carpentry owner Dritan Mimini was looking forward to getting back on the tools on Wednesday. Picture: Sylvia Liber

Having been off work for almost a month, carpenter Dritan Mimini is looking forward to getting back on the tools on Wednesday.

However, The 4 Corners Carpentry owner, based in Wollongong, south of Sydney, can only operate in sites working at 50 per cent capacity.

That's just one of the tough new vaccination rules that have come under fire from some in the construction industry.

GJ Gardner Homes Wollongong managing director Sean Vickery said changes introduced by the NSW government over the weekend presented his company with an "administration nightmare".

"It is not without its challenges at the moment with all this COVID criteria and compliance," Mr Vickery said.

"We've got multiple sites, we've got safety plans, we've got QR codes, now we've got to check for vaccination as well.

"It is an administration nightmare. There is no doubt about it."

Unvaccinated tradies like Mr Mimini can't work in the eight hot spot local government areas (LGAs) of Blacktown, Campbelltown, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Georges River, Liverpool and Parramatta.

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Construction workers from these areas must provide evidence that they've received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine or their first dose at least three weeks before attending work. However, construction workers who've only received their first dose can re-enter the site before the three-week period if they've returned a negative COVID-19 test in the 72 hours before.

Some conservatives within Gladys Berejiklian's own Liberal Party are revolting against the Premier's plans to make vaccinations a mandatory condition of employment for tradies and construction workers.

It is not quite yet at the stage of "no vax, no work", however on Sunday, Premier Berejiklian told media that workers would need to work with employers on getting their vaccinations, and provide proof prior to going on site.

CHALLENGES: GJ Gardner Homes Wollongong managing director Sean Vickery.

CHALLENGES: GJ Gardner Homes Wollongong managing director Sean Vickery.

Mr Vickery said most of the subcontractors GJ Gardner worked with seemed keen to do whatever was needed to comply with the latest regulations.

"It is a little bit frustrating because progress is slowed a lit bit because we are only allowed one trade on the site at a time, and obviously we've got to strictly comply with the latest rules, which does slow things down," he said.

"But I've seen a marked shift in the way the attitudes have changed towards vaccination.

"In the last few weeks in particular I think people are just resigned to the fact that this is something they are going to have to do now, particularly the younger trades."

Mr Vickery was frustrated tradies didn't have the option to get vaccinated earlier.

"A lot of trades are younger and below 40, they really didn't have that early opportunity to book in and get a vaccination, so we are a bit behind the eight-ball," he said.

"But I do think the attitudes have changed a bit and people seem to be more accepting it is just going to be a necessity in order to get back to normal."

Mr Mimini, 42, agreed, adding he was just waiting for frontline health and police workers, teachers and the elderly to be vaccinated first.

He also agreed with Mr Vickery that the opening of Wollongong's new vaccination hub would make things much easier for tradespeople.

"Given all the added pressures on site, I'm all for anything that makes getting vaccinated easier."

This story Tradies react to 'nightmare' new COVID rules first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.