The maritime union supports the government’s decision to make Covid-19 jabs mandatory for port workers.
National Secretary Craig Harrison said the union also supported freedom of choice for workers who did not want to be vaccinated, and would work with employers to ensure unvaccinated workers do not put their jobs on the line. danger.
The need to protect port workers and the community was the main concern of the union, he said.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said on Monday that around 1,800 airport and port workers will now need to be vaccinated to do their jobs.
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It comes months after government-employed border workers and isolation and quarantine staff had to be trapped or relocated from the front line.
“This is necessary to increase vaccine uptake among the broader border workforce and strengthen our continued response to Covid-19,” Hipkins said.
“In addition to workers at Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) facilities, workers at our ports and airports who are at the greatest risk of exposure to Covid-19 must now be vaccinated. “
Just over 50 percent of active port workers and 82 percent of active border workers had been fully immunized.
Hipkins wanted to see that number increase.
Harrison said protocols and the use of personal protective equipment by port workers have had good results, but with new variants of Covid-19 causing problems overseas, additional precautions are welcome.
The details of who was covered by the order were not yet clear. For example, it was not known whether this applied to someone who worked in administration and did not approach a ship, or simply to people who boarded ships.
About 60% of the workforce would not go on ships, he said.
Some members have expressed concern about being forced to take the jab, but workers could be displaced in some cases.
“It’s a very unusual situation. It will be a pretty hard pill to swallow for someone who, for example, has worked for 30 years at the water’s edge only to be told that if you don’t get that injection you are going to lose your job, ”he said. -he declares.
There should be a lot of support for the workers and the union would defend the jobs of the unvaccinated, he said.
The current shortage of workers at the ports could be affected by the order, he said. Many workers were part-time or casual, with some companies’ workforces being up to 70 percent part-time.
The large number of precarious workers with irregular work patterns would be difficult to follow.
Labor lawyer Susan Hornsby-Geluk said the order meant vaccination was a basic job requirement. If a worker chose not to receive the jab, employers would have to work with him to find another job away from the front line. Otherwise, termination was the next step.
“It’s a tough decision for these employees, but it’s the reality. “
When asked if it was problematic that the jab was commissioned when it was still only provisionally approved, and MedSafe monthly safety reports showed that new safety signals were being reported, including a menstrual disorder, paralysis of the bells and myocarditis (inflammation of the heart), she would not be drawn.
Any responsibility for an adverse reaction suffered by a worker who had been commissioned to receive the jab would likely lie with the government rather than the employer, she said.
April Health order which required border workers to have received at least their first vaccine against Covid-19, did not cover “the broader border workforce” such as airline staff and port workers. All managed isolation and quarantine staff were covered by the order.