Hundreds of workers walked out of a Kmart distribution warehouse on Friday over fears of inadequate contact tracing after a worker at the site tested positive to COVID-19.
The massive $120 million distribution centre at Truganina on Melbourne's western fringe supplies products to all Kmart stores across Victoria but is run by the logistics company Toll.
The warehouse supplies Kmart stores across the state but is run by logistics company Toll.Credit:
Three workers at the site were told to isolate after a staff member, whose most recent shift was on Friday last week, recorded a positive result on Wednesday. The distribution centre was cleaned on Thursday afternoon and started up again on Friday.
About 250 workers then left the site after staff health and safety representatives issued a stop work notice because of what their union representative, United Workers Union logistics director Matt Toner, said was "disturbingly inadequate" contact tracing.
"[Toll] have left their workforce in the dark, refusing to answer questions about the latest case," Mr Toner said. "This includes which department the infected worker was working in."
The workers had not returned by Friday evening. Warehouses have been a coronavirus transmission hotspot, with 44 coronavirus cases linked to a Linfox site in the same suburb as the Toll-run Kmart distribution centre and 59 linked to a Woolworths warehouse in Mulgrave by Thursday.
A Kmart spokesman said: "a short term disruption at the site will have no impact on stock availability in our stores."
Toll said it was following all health advice including physical distancing, separating shifts, temperature testing and giving employees masks and hand sanitiser.
"As we continue to operate as an essential service throughout this time, the health and safety of our people and community is our number one priority," a company spokeswoman said. It said it was working with the union to get the site running and with WorkSafe Victoria and the Department of Health on its safety.
The union says Toll did not say where at least six workers whose names were listed next to the words "COVID-19" on a sheet in the warehouse were working because they were employed by a separate labour hire agency called Tusk. Some of those workers were awaiting test results and others had chosen not to work because of the pandemic.
Warehouses were ordered to drop their operating staff by a third this week to stop the spread of the coronavirus as part of the Andrews government's stage four restrictions.
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