COVID-19

New Zealand: government fired customs officials who refused Covid-19 vaccine

The New Zealand Customs Administration fired nine employees who refused to vaccinate against Covid-19. The country requires all border guards to be vaccinated by May 1.

We are not used to seeing layoffs. In New Zealand, nine customs officers have lost their jobs due to refusal to get vaccinated against Covid-19. The New Zealand Customs Administration decided to part ways with them after the government announced that border workers must be vaccinated by May 1.

However, as the Guardian notes, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in February that the government would not make vaccination mandatory for frontline personnel, but that those who refuse will be promoted to low-risk positions. But nine employees working at the maritime border on fixed-term contracts were unable to find work.

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Trade unions are outraged

“We are sorry that these people had to quit their jobs, and we understand how difficult this situation is for them,” said Jacinda Funnell, deputy general director of customs. Customs have been discussing since early March, she said, and officials have warned them that “relocation options are very limited due to the lack of other customs functions in the region.” The agency also tried to find solutions to replace them in other government positions, but to no avail.

New Zealand unions were outraged by the situation and said workers should be transferred to other positions. The E tū union stated: “We do not support compulsory vaccination and do not tolerate discrimination against workers who choose not to get vaccinated.” For its part, the Civil Service Association trade union announced in a statement that unvaccinated border personnel “should be reassigned and their labor rights should be protected.”

According to figures released by the government, about 95% of customs officials considered to be frontline personnel received their first dose and 85% received their second dose of the vaccine.

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