Meat worker Eh Choe has been off work with coronavirus for two weeks.(Supplied: Eh Choe)ShareFacebookTwitterArticle share optionsShare this onFacebookTwitterLinkedInSend this byEmailMessengerCopy linkWhatsAppPrint contentPrint with images and other mediaPrint text onlyPrintCancelMelbourne abattoir worker Eh Choe, 38, has been home sick with coronavirus for the past two weeks, isolating in a separate room of his house away from the rest of his family.Key points:Eh Choe works for meat-processing plant JBS in Melbourne and contracted coronavirusWhile isolating at home, his days off were counted as annual leave rather than sick leaveJBS says any employee with coronavirus is entitled to get sick leaveBut despite having to isolate at home, Mr Choe told 7.30 his time off work has been deducted from his annual leave, rather than his sick leave.He works at the JBS meat-processing plant in Brooklyn in the city's west, which has been linked to 82 cases of the virus."I am drained from having COVID-19," he told 7.30 through a Karen (a language spoken in Myanmar) translator."Even though I am feeling a bit better, my energy is not back to 100 per cent."Mr Choe works in the cold room at the factory, often moving between warm and freezing temperatures throughout the day, so when he started to feel a fever, he thought nothing of it at first."The inside of my workplace is cold, but I would get sweaty when helping other people or working outside. My body temperature would go up and down while I was working," he said."When I got home at night after work, I got a fever and took medicine. I felt my temperature going down a bit after."When he went back in to work at JBS on July 13, the company had COVID-19 tests on site. Eh Choe works at the JBS meat-processing plant in Brooklyn, Melbourne.(ABC News: Simon Winter)"I had a bit of a cough at that time, so I took the test, and the next day the result came stating that I am positive."He told 7.30 that despite being diagnosed with COVID-19 and needing to stay home and recover, his work did not deduct his two weeks from sick leave."I do have sick leave, I have more than 100 hours of sick leave. I saw [on my payslip] that they did not count my days off from my sick leave but instead it's from my annual leave," he said."Usually we need to fill in a form first before they allow us to take annual leave. But this time they told me I can take days off from work without filling in the form."Despite Mr Choe's experience, JBS said that any worker who tests positive to the virus is entitled to take sick leave.In a statement, the company said: "There has been confusion among our workforce about the type of leave employees are entitled to take."Since being contacted by 7.30, JBS has offered to change Mr Choe's annual leave to sick leave.JBS is just one of several meat-processing facilities in Melbourne where COVID clusters have emerged. JBS's Brooklyn factory was ordered to shut down for two weeks. The company said it had deep-cleaned the factory and tested all workers at the site.For the latest news on the COVID-19 pandemic follow our live updates.'Insecure work is driving the second wave' Sally McManus would like to see pandemic leave available for all workers.(Supplied)Workers in essential industries like aged care, transport and manufacturing, who cannot work from home and are often on casual contracts, along with migrants and those with English as a second language, are being hard hit in this second wave.Sally McManus from the Australian Council of Trade Unions says workers who do not speak English are "so vulnerable to being exploited, exposed, getting infected"."If you've got the coronavirus, you are certainly sick and it is sick leave, not annual leave," Ms McManus said."It's those workers that are now becoming the fodder really for the coronavirus pandemic and they're being sent out to be the essential workers and they're paying the price."Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has implored workers who feel unwell to stay home, and the Government has offered one-off payments of $1,500 for workers without paid sick leave who are required to isolate with COVID-19."Too many people are still going to work when they have symptoms," Mr Andrews said today.However, Ms McManus said many workers in insecure work may be reluctant to isolate."The issue is this: it's that people who are insecure workers who don't have sick leave also can be sacked at will," she said."As a community, we need to support those people staying at home, because what they're doing is they're actually saving lives and they're also saving jobs by not going to work and spreading the virus."She is adding her voice to the growing call for paid pandemic leave for all workers."The obvious thing we need to do [is] to take away that financial penalty that people are currently facing when they weigh up whether they should get tested or whether they should stay at home," Ms McManus said."Insecure work is driving the second wave that's occurring. The holes it leaves in our defences, the fact that workers don't have paid sick leave in the middle of a pandemic, is what is spreading the virus."Federal Attorney-General and Minister for Industrial Relations Christian Porter told 7.30 in a statement that the Government would look into the issue.He said the Government would continue working with stakeholders, including the ACTU, "to identify data and evidence illustrating where circumstances may arise where a lack of financial support for a workplace absence could manifest as a contributing cause of workplace transmission of COVID-19, particularly in Victoria"."The Government will consider that evidence when it's made available before deciding next steps."Read more about coronavirus:Coronavirus has returned to Queensland, so what happens now?How to keep your parents in aged care safe during the coronavirus pandemicMulticultural hub a coronavirus hotspot Wyndham Mayor Josh Gilligan said the council was cooking meals for vulnerable community members who were self-isolating.(Supplied: Josh Gilligan)Mr Choe lives in the city of Wyndham, west of Melbourne. It is a sprawling multicultural hub that its 27-year-old mayor Josh Gilligan is very proud of."You will never find a more diverse local government area than Wyndham," he said."You've got the second-fastest-growing city in the nation here,
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