Air NZ is giving thought to mandating Covid-19 jabs for around half of its employees bringing the total number to about 4000. The new proposal seeks to include all the employees and workers who interact with customers or handle their baggage on a daily basis. Workers who are working from the office even if the public health measures require them to work from home wherever possible are also included under the mandatory vaccination proposal. Feedback forms have been provided to the staff which they can submit until 15th September.
Around 2,300 Air NZ staff are already partially vaccinated as part of a mandatory government order passed in July. More than 86% of Air NZ employees have been inoculated with the first dose of the vaccine while 82% have received both doses.
David Morgan, Air New Zealand’s chief operational integrity and safety officer said that the company will reach a final decision after assessing the employee feedback. The Delta virus outbreak is one the primary reasons behind this decision. He added that ensuring the health and safety of AirNZ’s staff and families is their responsibility. Morgan stated that ANZ was the first company to hold discussions on mandatory inoculations openly. It is set to create a precedent. The airline has been conducting regular checks of its risk controls to test their solidity and capabilities in securing the best health interests of its staff.
There is no view formed by Air NZ in case of staff who refuse to take the vaccine but falls under the ambit of mandatory vaccine proposal. However, Morgan said that there are various roles within the business that serve as opportunities. The proposal required new staff to be vaccinated. There are also possibilities of vaccinations becoming a compulsory requirement for hiring across the business. The executive remains tight-lipped over it but this question can be part of consultations.
The airline has been highlighting the efficacy of Covid-19 jabs in reducing the death and suffering associated with Delta variant of Covid-19. Air NZ acknowledges the personal freedom of workers to take decisions regarding vaccination but also feels obligated to ensure the well-being and safety of its employees.
E tū union’s head of aviation, Savage said that it would conduct rigorous evaluations of the scope and detail of Air NZ’s risk assessments. Protecting workers from unemployment and loss of income is as important as protecting them from illness and death, according to him. Workers should not be forced to take vaccinations.