COVID-19 at Chemist Warehouse

Chemist Warehouse has temporarily closed a facility after a worker tested positive for COVID-19, and says it won’t impact stock availability for its pharmacies

Late last week CW management, which provides wholesaling services to the Chemist Warehouse network as well as other pharmacies across the country, was notified that a team member had returned a positive COVID test.

This team member had last been on-site at the Victorian Distribution Centre on Thursday, 9 July.

The United Workers Union slammed the discount giant, saying that the case could “lead to a new outbreak”.

“The worker and only five of their colleagues have gone into isolation, despite the possibility of up to 100 staff who worked the same shift having come in contact with the confirmed case,” the Union said in a statement.

“Chemist Warehouse management wanted to continue business as usual today. However, after workers found out about the case, many have rightfully refused to work until Chemist Warehouse prioritises their safety.

“In response, the company has demanded workers use their own entitlements, forcing casual workers and workers with low entitlements to choose between financially supporting their family or putting their health at risk.

“Despite United Workers Union’s requests, Chemist Warehouse only provided limited details of the thoroughness of the clean that took place before they expected staff to continue working.”

United Workers Union Logistics Director Matt Toner said that “Yet again we see a company that has made mega-profits off this pandemic taking the low road and treating workers as if they were completely dispensable”.

“Big businesses need to understand that this virus spreads just as fast in the workplace as it does in the community, and they need to do more to stop the second wave hitting Victorians,” he said.

“Chemist Warehouse must think of their workers as people, who could die from this deadly virus, rather than trying to return to business as normal and get as much production out as possible in the greedy pursuit of profits.”

The union said it wanted Chemist Warehouse to place all workers at the site on paid pandemic leave until they have been able to obtain a COVID test and return it negative, and to close the site for 72 hours to allow for a deep clean.

But Mario Tascone, director of CW Retail, said that “CW Management is following all protocols as published by the Department of Human Services and will continue to stress the importance and provide the means for social distancing within our facilities”.  

“We continue to encourage our staff to wear face masks and any other appropriate PPE which we shall continue to provide,” he said.

“At all CW Management sites a temperature check for both employees and any external contractors is performed prior to site entry.”

Mr Tascone told the media that the facility has been temporary closed to “enable an external, appropriately resourced and experienced cleaning company to perform all required deep cleans as per DHHS guidelines”.

“Direct contacts are being traced and shall be notified,” he said.

Mr Tascone also said that CW Management extended its best wishes for a speedy recovery to the affected team member and wanted to “reassure our customers that we will continue to do all we can to ensure the pharmacy networks we supply continue to have stock on their shelves to assist every Australian through this difficult time”.

“CW Management do not envisage the current shut down will impact on stock availability for the retail pharmacies they service and has put in place the necessary redundancies to ensure this is the case,” he said.

Chemist Warehouse also informed its online customers that CW Management does not provide fulfilment services for its online business, nor are Chemist Warehouse online orders filled at the affected facility.

“As such there will be no impact on timeliness of dispatch for all Chemist Warehouse customers’ online orders.”

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