Border workers face being out of a job if not vaccinated by month's end

Source: 1News

The Government's no jab, no job mandate for border workers has prompted a group claiming the support of more than 230 port workers around the country to threaten action, over what they claim is a breach of their human rights.

If they don't get vaccinated before the month's end, they'll all be out of a job.

Dwayne Hika's been a stevedore at Port of Tauranga for 30 years, but his career could be over in less than a month.

"I'm standing up for the rest of the guys around the country, the port workers plus all border workers everywhere, because I think it's taking away our freedom of choice, this no jab no job mandate," he said.

"If we haven't got the basic human right to say 'yes or no' then to me, that's taken one huge liberty away from everyone."

While the port was at the centre of a scare last month with Covid-positive foreign crew on a ship, Hika says stringent protocols mean "nothing has come through our port here".

However, experts say if they aren't vaccinated, they pose too great a risk to the rest of the country's fight against Delta.

"The position of union is we're encouraging our members to be vaccinated, we understand freedom of choice, they can make their choice if they want to be vaccinated or not but we also understand we're operating under this maritime border order where come 30th September anyone on or near a ship will have to be vaccinated," Craig Harrison of the Maritime Union said. 

The Ministry of Health says protection of the border remains a top priority, with 81 per cent of 3000 port workers have had at least one jab.

Epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker says vaccinating border workers will protect them, "and also protect the whole country from outbreaks". 

Employment advocate Ashleigh Fechney has filed a judicial review challenging the vaccination.

"If we step back and have some compassion, how would you feel if you had 48 hours notice you were losing your job?"

The group claims to have port workers amongst their numbers.