Tuesday, 08 February 2022 06:55

Covid policy could bring staffing woes

Written by  Peter Burke
Dairy Workers Union general secretary Chris Flatt fears some factory workers may be lost to the industry because of their anti-vaccination stance. Dairy Workers Union general secretary Chris Flatt fears some factory workers may be lost to the industry because of their anti-vaccination stance.

The dairy industry is facing the prospect of losing some highly skilled staff because they are not fully vaccinated.

Dairy companies around the country are individually going through a risk assessment process and consulting staff on whether or not to mandate vaccinations for staff.

Dairy Workers Union national secretary Chris Flatt told Dairy News he fears that some workers may be lost to the industry because of their anti-vaccination stance.

The union represents 8,500 workers in the industry and Flatt says the key focus of the union is about people's health and safety when they go to work.

He says, like the rest of society, there are conflicting views within the dairy industry workforce on the issues of vaccination.

"What we have heard is that the majority of our members support vaccination. They want to be safe at work and have received double vaccination. But there are those within our union, like in wider society, who don't agree with that and we are trying to support them as well," he says.

Flatt says his union has been heavily involved in the consultation processes on risk assessments with those companies they have collective agreements with. There is only one they don't have an agreement with. He says the process has been fair and they feel thir concerns have been listened to.

He notes that while they may not agree with everything, they accept the fact that companies have the right in law to put in place a vaccination mandate for their staff.

The union has the challenging task of supporting both those who are vaccinated and those who are not. In the case of the latter, Flatt says they are working with these people to see if they can get a vaccination or possibly an exemption, which some companies are offering in certain circumstances - particularly on medical grounds.

"But we also have members who tell us they want to turn up to work and be safe at work and not be around, potentially, those that could spread the virus," he says.

Flatt says there are some tough conversations still to be had before companies make a final decision on how to manage their respective risks around the highly-transmissable Omicron variant. Talks are ongoing in this respect and while it appears that most will mandate vaccinations, Dairy News is aware that at least one company will not,k because of low vaccination rates in its milk catchment area.

More like this

Fonterra updates earnings guidance

Fonterra has updated its earnings guidance for the 2022 financial year that ended on 31 July 2022, indicating that earnings will be towards the top end of its current guidance of 25 – 35 cents per share.

Fonterra revamps management team

Fonterra has completed a revamp of its executive management team with the appointment of Emma Parsons in the new role of managing director strategy and optimisation.

The Landing - sequestering on site

Covid-19 has slowed some carbon emission initiatives at The Landing in Northland, but reforestation is continuing at pace, with more than 10,000 native trees planted in the past year alone.


Genetics focus boosts herd

A strong focus on genetics and DNA has paid dividends for Fernside dairy farmer Julie Bradshaw with four of her…

Machinery & Products

A baler like no other

While baler-wrapper combinations have become the backbone of baled silage production, one machine stands out from the rest in the…

Small bales in demand

While round or large square bales have the dominant shares in the rural landscape, small square bales still play an…

Amazone's one-pass operation

Ag machinery maker Amazone has paired up its Precea precision air seeder and Combi-Disc 3000 compact disc harrow to deliver…

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

Milking It

$1m remains unpaid

OPINION: A group of New Zealand farmers who collectively sold $1 million worth of cattle to a live export company…

Too close for comfort

OPINION: One vet believes the threat of foot-and-mouth entering New Zealand is much higher than what authorities tell the public.

» Connect with Dairy News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter