The Project hosts debated over who should have the right to mandate COVID-19 vaccines on the show last night, just after it was announced that Qantas will requite its pilots, cabin crew and airport staff to be fully vaccinated within three months.
Frontline employees across Qantas and its subsidiary Jetstar have until November 15 to be fully jabbed. The deadline for other workers, such as those in head office, to receive both doses is March 31 next year.
Last night on The Project, the hosts debated the topic, with Waleed saying: “I’m just not comfortable with the idea that it’s companies that should have that call. I think it’s really for the government to do that because they’re accountable to us.”
Waleed then asked the rest of the panel if they would be comfortable with companies making the decision.
Peter Helliar replied: “No I agree with you, I think it should be government but there are some sectors that I think need to be vaccinated, like hospitality. To be honest, if I owned a cafe, I’d want all my staff vaccinated because they’ve been through a bit.”
It’s a tricky conversation we need to have as a nation: How do you balance the basic human rights of people who want a COVID safe workplace, against the basic medical rights of those who don’t want to be vaccinated? And do our employers have the right to decide?#TheProjectTV pic.twitter.com/grOZPXnKju
— The Project (@theprojecttv) August 18, 2021
Qantas boss Alan Joyce called on the federal government to mandate the jab for the aviation industry but is not waiting for it to move.
"Having a fully vaccinated workforce will safeguard all of our people against the virus and also protect our customers and the large amount of communities that we fly to," Mr Joyce told reporters on Wednesday.
"We believe we have an obligation of duty of care for our customers and employees to make the workplace as safe as possible."
Mandatory jabs are increasingly becoming a global standard and Mr Joyce expects more Australian companies to adopt it.
Qantas will grant exemptions for employees who provide documented medical proof as to why they cannot be vaccinated.
But this is expected to be a rare occurrence.
A company survey which 12,000 staff responded to showed 89 per cent had already been jabbed or made an appointment.
Of those, 60 per cent were fully vaccinated, 77 per cent had received one dose and 12 per cent were booked in or planned to do so.
About three-quarters of people believed the jab should be mandatory.
Just four per cent of people were unwilling or unable to be vaccinated, with seven per cent undecided or preferring not to say.
"If other employees decided that they're not taking the jab, they are deciding, I think, that aviation isn't the area for them," Mr Joyce said.
"We will have limited redeployment opportunities given that the organisation has significantly shrunk in the last year or so because of COVID."
Qantas is set to require international travellers to show proof of vaccination when people can fly overseas again.
No decision has been made about domestic passengers.
With additional reporting by AAP
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