Tauranga port encourage vaccination amid scare

The Rio de la Plata at the container terminal last week. Photo: Alisha Evans/SunLive.

Port of Tauranga say they strongly support their workers getting vaccinated and will be hosting another two vaccination clinics over the next fortnight.

This comes after the Rio de la Plata shipping container Covid-19 scare and the revelation of a low number of vaccinated frontline workers operating at the port.

As of July 22, 60 per cent of the frontline border workers in the Bay of Plenty haven’t had a single Covid vaccination.

The news came to light after 11 crew members on the Rio vessel tested positive for Covid-19

Yesterday also saw 94 port workers told to isolate after they were identified as having contact with the ship during the four-day period it was berthed at the Port of Tauranga. As part of the urgent testing regarding port workers in Tauranga, 109 negative test results have been returned so far.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins revealed yesterday in a post-Cabinet media conference that only nine of the 94 initially identified port workers told to isolate as a result of the Rio scare have been vaccinated.

It was a figure he says is “too low”.

A Port of Tauranga spokesperson says that whilst most of their directly employed staff are vaccinated, other companies also use the port.

“Almost all of our own frontline staff are vaccinated, but there are dozens of companies that work on the port,” says the Port spokesperson.

“Vaccinations have been available at Port of Tauranga since March but the border order making vaccination compulsory was only introduced on July 14.”

She says that frontline port workers must now have their first dose by September 30.

“We strongly support vaccination and have provided information sessions and vaccination centres on site,” says the Port spokesperson.  

“We are hosting another two vaccination clinics on site over the next two weeks.

“Vaccination is another useful tool in the fight against Covid-19, but we will continue to follow all our other precautions that have worked for the past 18 months; frequent cleaning, use of PPE, physical distancing from ship’s crew and regular Covid-19 testing.”

The spokesperson says these precautions were followed by all workers who boarded the Rio de la Plata last week.

“Port of Tauranga treats all vessels as if they have Covid-19 on board and will continue to do so.”

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Posted on 11-08-2021 17:41 | By morepork

Most of the labor used to unload ships is unskilled. Sure, crane drivers and equipment Operators are skilled, but these are not "front line" workers. In my youth, living in Auckland, and before Unionism completely took it over, it was very usual to go down to the docks and volunteer for casual work. I don’t say we can force people to be vaccinated; that would be morally wrong and repressive. But we CAN have a job requirement that you MUST be vaccinated. It’s your choice.

@ B.C.

Posted on 11-08-2021 08:32 | By

You won’t need the toaster as you said the grocery shelves are empty :-) Jokes aside though, I hear you and agree but there must be some sort of penalty as being deemed such a high risk area they are potentially holding a gun to NZ’ers heads. A lot however due to the ’she’ll be right’ attitude of the Government. Every time something happens it’s deemed ’only a low risk’ Then why send all those Port workers into isolation?

Think it through

Posted on 10-08-2021 19:42 | By

For those who think unvaccinated port workers should sacked, who do you think will unload the ships? Do you think they’ll unload themselves? What are you going to do when the grocery shelves are empty or when you need to buy a new toaster from the warehouse?

Get the jab

Posted on 10-08-2021 16:08 | By Merlin

Get the jab PLEASE port workers and support the country in trying to keep Covid out again.If it becomes mandatory and you don’t your job could be at stake.

Disgraceful Employees!

Posted on 10-08-2021 14:57 | By jed

Those port employees should be marched down to the vaccination clinic and given the vaccine or fired on the spot! They risk throwing the country into another lockdown, and put the lives of New Zealanders in danger. Unbelievable that at this stage the government hasn’t sorted this gaping vulnerability!