Earlier this week, in an opinion editorial, Napier Port CEO Todd Dawson explained that the Port is consulting with its “workforce and port users to determine how Napier Port stays safe, open and operational with Delta in our community”.
Reading between the lines of the delicate language of employee relations it looks like Napier Port is heading towards mandatory vaccination for port workers and users. This should come as welcome news to the people of Hawke’s Bay.
Our local port underpins the success and prosperity of our region. We share in its success, through the Regional Council’s majority ownership. Similarly the Port’s safety from the Delta version of Covid 19 is closely aligned to with our personal wellbeing and the region’s economic wellbeing. Keeping it open means that goods can flow, people are employed and our region keeps humming. The alternative doesn’t bear thinking about.
Dawson says that it wasn’t a difficult decision to make.
“Following the recent alert level changes and August lockdown in August, and based on the increased risk that Delta poses in terms of transmissibility and severity, it was essential to review our processes and risk assessments.”
Factors considered by the Port included:
- Protecting people, and taking all reasonable practicable steps to minimise risk
- The increased risks associated with Delta
- Protecting on two fronts – land and sea
- Responsibilities as a border
- Being a lifeline service provider – Hawke’s Bay needs its port.
Speaking to BayBuzz, Todd Dawson delved further into the reasons for starting the conversation about mandatory vaccinations.
“We want to be known for doing the right thing by our people, our society and having integrity around the things we do. We have a high degree of moral responsibility in how we operate and we’ll take a stand on certain things because we think it’s the right thing to do.
“Ultimately, we work on principles of looking after our people, community, environment and making a fair return for shareholders.”
The Port is doing as much as it can to drive vaccination uptake, Dawson says. The Port’s consultation period runs to 18 October. “We’ve been incredibly proactive around testing and vaccinations from the outset, so we have a good basis upon which to build. We’ll work through any resistance on a case by case basis.”
Hawke’s Bay ratepayers have a vested interest in seeing our Port do everything it can to manage risks including those from global pandemics. Getting to the point of mandating vaccinations is not just the right thing to do to keep people safe, it’s bloody smart commercially too.
It’s not the first time that Napier Port has stepped up. Bay Buzz readers will recall that Napier Port was one of the first companies to repay the wage subsidy it received last year during the first national lockdown, returning more than $2m to Government coffers.
While some will decry mandatory vaccination as a step too far, there’s too much at stake not to consider it. We don’t know how or when or even if the Covid 19 era will end, and we don’t know what’s yet to come. Doing the right thing at the right time, especially when you know it won’t be universally popular, takes guts, and a steady hand on the tiller.
I for one, am happy that Napier Port’s moral compass is working, and I’m happy to support whatever steps the Port deems necessary to protect its workers, the community and the region from worst effects of Covid 19.