Terminal operator allegedly hid positive COVID-19 result of worker

Port Botany, Australia. Credit: Clark Equipment Australia

Container terminal operator Hutchison Ports has allegedly withheld knowledge of a confirmed COVID-19 test result, exposing stevedores to the virus working in Port Botany, New South Wales (NSW), Australia.

The worker, who tested positive, undertook six shifts in the terminal from 24 March and as of 6 April another worker has tested positive according to the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA).

The MUA have said in a statement that despite the confirmed cases of COVID-19, Hutchison Ports still refuses to share potential exposure and contact information with the workforce of the union. This could put more workers at risk of exposure and further transmission of the virus to the community.

“It’s like Hutchison are not part of this community crisis and global pandemic. They just want to work away like it’s business as usual. We think hiding facts about exposure to COVID-19 from workers and risking their transmission is a criminal act,” said Warren Smith assistant national secretary MUA.

An estimated 30 stevedores are currently in isolation at Hutchison Ports, but according to the MUA the company is “still not revealing all the facts to them” and the union fears the number could be much higher.

The MUA is demanding an urgent meeting with NSW Health and the company, seeking full disclosure around all matters and allowing it to become involved and assist in future plans.

Hutchison Ports has been contacted for commentary.