Customs fires nine workers for refusing COVID-19 vaccine

Nine Customs workers have been fired over refusing the COVID-19 vaccine.
Nine Customs workers have been fired over refusing the COVID-19 vaccine. Photo credit: File Image

Customs has fired nine staff members after they refused to have the COVID-19 vaccine.  

In a statement provided to Newshub, Customs deputy chief executive of people and capability Jacinda Funnell confirmed nine non-vaccinated workers were served a notice of early termination. 

"We regret that these individuals have had to leave employment, and understand what a difficult situation this is for them," Funnell said. 

In accordance with New Zealand's COVID-19 response, Customs is barred from having unvaccinated staff work in certain high-risk areas from May 1. 

The nine sacked staff members were maritime border workers, their unvaccinated status meant they were no longer allowed to work in this area. 

As Customs was unable to find alternative roles for the workers their fixed-term contracts were terminated. 

Funnell says staff knew the risks of refusing the vaccine: "Customs had been discussing options with staff at the beginning of March, and informing them that their options for redeployment were very limited due to no other Customs functions existing in the area."

She says Customs also helped staff members look into other reemployment options across the wider public service: "Of the 5 percent staff who weren't vaccinated, most of whom were unable to receive the vaccine, many have been successfully redeployed into alternative roles within Customs." 

So far more than 95 percent of frontline Customs staff who were required to be vaccinated have received their first dose and 85 percent have received the second dose. 

"Customs is proud that the vast majority of Customs frontline officers have recognised the importance of protecting themselves, their whānau, and New Zealand," said Funnell.