NEW ZEALAND, Wellington. The New Zealand government has tightened the reins on the fight against the Corona pandemic and has now announced mandatory vaccination for employees in some work sectors, such as health, education and the service sector with customer contact.
The country's meat industry is also aiming to have all of its employees vaccinated against Covid-19. In addition to education and on-the-job vaccination, some companies have also paid cash bonuses as a vaccination incentive; however, not all employees have taken up the offer. New Zealand's Workplace Minister Michael Wood, meanwhile, announced another set of measures to protect workplaces and workers, including a new law to help employers decide whether to mandate vaccination in their businesses after a risk assessment.
This was strongly welcomed by the Meat Industry Association (MIA). "As New Zealand's largest manufacturing sector, we support the government's plans for a clear and simplified risk assessment process to help meat processors and exporters decide whether or not to make Covid 19 vaccination mandatory in their operations," said MIA executive director Sirma Karapeeva. She said the meat industry employs about 25,000 people, including many Māori and Pasifika, who would be considered more at risk for Covid-19.
While companies could already make Corona vaccination a health and safety requirement in their operations, it would be a difficult and complex process, Karapeeva explained. However, she said it is critical that all workers be vaccinated to have protection against Covid-19, especially because employees work closely together on long shifts. "We welcome the government's move to make it easier for companies to decide whether to require vaccination via a risk procedure enshrined in law," Karapeeva said.
The meat processing industry is the country's second-largest export sector, with export revenue of NZ$9.2 billion (€ 5.7 bn.), and a fully vaccinated workforce makes it easier for it to continue to access world markets, she said.