Customs confirmed nine border workers had been fired for refusing to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Photo / Alex Burton
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Nine Customs workers have been fired for refusing the Covid-19 vaccine, including four from a provincial port.
Their contracts were terminated after Customs could not find suitable alternative roles for the workers.
It comes as more problems hit Tasman’s overnight travel bubble.
Flights from Western Australia to New Zealand were canceled last night after a security guard at the MIQ Perth facility tested positive for Covid.
Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines flights due to take off from Perth and land in Auckland this morning were canceled, but there is still uncertainty over flights to Western Australia from New Zealand.
The Air NZ NZ175 flight to Perth this morning had been delayed until 14.30, but staff at the airport were unable to confirm to the Herald if the delay was due to a Perth MIQ worker testing positive. Qantas told the Herald it had no scheduled flights from Western Australia to New Zealand today, and all flights were operating as normal.
The Health Ministry said the next update would be issued at 1pm today.
New Zealand’s Covid-19 Public Health Response (Vaccination) Order went into effect at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, April 30, and requires all workers in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facilities and those working for Government agencies at the border to be vaccinated. .
Deputy chief executive of customs and capabilities Jacinda Funnell confirmed to Stuff that nine employees, including four at the provincial port, had been terminated because they were not vaccinated.
A maritime border worker, who asked not to be named, told Stuff he was grieved at being fired after what he said was a lack of consultation by the agency.
They were not offered redundancy payments because their roles were not canceled, Customs said. The agency maintains communication with workers.
Catherine Stewart, an Auckland employment attorney, reportedly said employers of workers who are required to be vaccinated are likely to “substantively justify the dismissal of unvaccinated employees”.
Under the Covid-19 Public Health Response (Vaccination) Order, they can demonstrate that they cannot legally retain unvaccinated people in that role.
But he said employers also had to follow a strict process.
“This means that they have to consult staff and, if a worker is reluctant to be vaccinated, confirm the reasons and work with them to try to effectively coax them into being vaccinated,” he told Stuff.
“If workers still don’t want to be vaccinated then employers should consider alternatives and try to shift workers to roles that don’t require vaccination, to save workers’ jobs.”
Even though it is the employee’s choice, the consequence of not vaccinating is the loss of their job.
One of the workers who worked until Friday at the provincial port monitoring international ships to ensure the crew was taking proper Covid precautions told Stuff he never had contact with the crew, and believed there was not enough risk to justify being asked to be vaccinated. .
He will not reveal his reasons for not getting the vaccine.
In a letter sent to him on Friday, Customs said the nature of his position meant it was unlikely to change his role to reduce his exposure to Covid-19.
A meeting was held with women’s law attorney Ashleigh Fechney in Christchurch, where Customs disagreed that they were in fact going through a redundancy process and that there were insufficient health and safety risks to mandate mandatory vaccinations.
In a letter, the agency said that the role was ongoing.
“Given the matters we discussed at the meeting, including the reasons why Customs requires that your position be carried out by a vaccinated person, the Government’s requirement that unvaccinated border workers stop working in that position by May 1, and the absence of any transfer appropriate opportunity, we inform you that Customs has decided to terminate your work as proposed, “the letter said.
More than 95 percent of Customs staff had their first dose and more than 85 percent of the second, Funnell said.
Perth-NZ flights must ‘stop immediately’
The Ministry of Health (MOH) announced shortly after 10pm last night that officials had “conducted a rapid public health assessment for New Zealand” and decided flights from Western Australia to New Zealand should be temporarily suspended.
The announcement comes after a security guard working in a hotel quarantine in Perth tested positive for Covid-19 yesterday. Two of the seven people who shared the man’s house also had positive results.
“Ministry officials have conducted a rapid public health assessment for New Zealand, and have determined that direct scheduled flights from Western Australia to New Zealand should be suspended immediately while further assessments are carried out, including further assessments and information from Australian health officials,” said the statement. Department of health.
Western Australian health officials have identified a number of locations of interest listed on their website.
Anyone who has left Perth in the last four days and arrived in New Zealand should check out these exciting locations.
New arrivals to New Zealand who are already in this attractive location should self-isolate immediately and contact Healthline in the morning for further advice.
Further information will be released on Sunday, the ministry said.
Western Australian Prime Minister Mark McGowan said in a press conference yesterday that the country would not lock in “at this time”.
“But maybe this could change tomorrow or the day after,” he said.
The security guard, a man in his 20s living in Nollamara, has received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, McGowan said.
He has worked at the Pan Pacific Hotel on April 24, 25 and 26, during which time new arrivals are allowed into the hotel.
He works on the same floor as two hotel quarantine occupants who have tested positive for Covid-19.
“The CCTV vision is being reviewed. However, there is no clear explanation at this point of how the security guards got infected,” said McGowan.
“There is a possibility that transmission could occur when international arrivals are received at the hotel quarantine and possibly transferred to their rooms.
“This is being investigated further.”
The man’s household included two guests from Canberra, McGowan said.
He said the man visited several locations in the community while likely having been contagious, including the Northlands shopping center, Coles, a cafe and a mosque.
Locations of current interest include:
• Al Taqwa Mosque in Mirrabooka on April 30 between 13.15 and 14.00.
• Coles at Prime West Northlands Shopping Center in Balcutta on April 29 between 4:30 PM and 5:15 PM.
• Agha Juice Café in Joondanna on April 28 between 6.50pm and 8pm.
• Smokemart at Prime West Northlands Shopping Center in Balcutta on April 28 between 13.30 and 15:15.
• Northlands Fresh at Prime West Northlands Shopping Center in Balcutta on April 28 between 13.30 and 15:15.
• Sown in Stirling on April 28 between 1.30 and 2.30.
• Swan Taxi Victoria Park on April 27 between 15: 50-14: 45.