OPINION: When Covid-19 first arrived in New Zealand, PM Jacinda Ardern made great play of the fact that it would be the primary sector - and that means rural NZ - would be the saviour of the economy.
Daryl Carran says the union is quite clear that, as the meat industry is an essential industry, workers should be vaccinated.
He says while there is no mandatory requirement for this now, the idea of a mandatory health declaration to this effect would not be a bad thing.
Carran's come as the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) works on the details of requiring vaccinations within the primary sector workforce in situations where it will help to safeguard market access. MPI is currently having discussions with industry to frame up what this might mean in practice.
There's currently no legal requirement for mandatory vaccinations for market access purposes.
Carran says, from what he's heard, vaccination rates for meat industry workers varies from region to region.
"The further north in the country you go it would appear the vaccination rates are lower," he told Rural News.
Carran says he'd like to see a significant lift in vaccination rates for Maori and Pasifika workers who form the majority of the workforce in the industry in the North Island.
"Having a mandatory vaccination policy is not a bad thing when you have people working shoulder to shoulder in quite adverse climatic conditions within large or even small factories," he adds.
One of the concerns around Covid vaccinations that Carran raises is being talked about right across the primary sector: That is the risk of NZ products being rejected by a key market - such as China - because workers in a plant are not vaccinated, or worse that there is an outbreak of Covid in a plant.