To ensure continuity in the supply chain, the road freight industry needs to know when truck drivers will receive the Covid-19 vaccine, Road Transport Forum chief executive Nick Leggett says.
Leggett said he enquired about Covid-19 vaccination prioritisation that the Government would be using to determine workers in essential industries, when he wrote to Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins in January.
"The trucking industry is keen to understand when its frontline workers - mainly drivers - might be in line for a vaccination and whether they will be given priority over the general population, given their importance in keeping the supply chain running," Leggett said.
"We see increasing urgency in getting truck drivers vaccinated when you note what is happening in Auckland, our largest city and home to our major port."
Leggett said the "yo-yoing lockdowns" had a significant effect on moving freight and Covid outbreaks in Auckland put a large workforce at risk.
"Ports of Auckland and other port workers are being vaccinated and it is only a matter of time before high-risk businesses start demanding any workers to their sites also be vaccinated."
The Road Transport Forum asked the Minister to consider the driver workforce as a priority due to the work they undertake, Leggett said.
"Transport operators are keen to mitigate risk and exposure of their employees to Covid-19 as soon as possible and some clarity on vaccination prioritisation would be useful so they can plan."
The Road Transport Forum had also asked for legal clarification around employers being able to require their staff to be vaccinated, Leggett said.
"This could emerge as an issue in New Zealand and we think it is especially relevant for both employers and employees in critical industries to understand where the law sits on this point."
The Road Transport Forum recognised the Government wouldn't be able to achieve a 100 per cent vaccination rate, but it was important to have frontline and critical staff vaccinated, Leggett said.
"We would like to be able to inform transport operators of their responsibilities and rights around employee vaccination requirements as soon as possible."