Covid-related occupational hazards had a significant impact on South African ports in 2020, especially in Cape Town where weather-related delays already compromise port operations on a regular basis.
However, if it’s any consolation, fears of infection and what’s being done to prevent contracting the coronavirus also cause disruption elsewhere.
This morning news out of New Zealand, a popular country for South African emigres, is that its largest port has experienced a mass walkout of employees fearing that not enough is being done to protect them against Covid-19.
The labour action at Ports of Auckland follows the recent deaths of two employees.
As a result employees issued a vote of no confidence in management, claiming that health and safety regulations are not what they should be.
This is in spite of an earlier inquiry launched by Auckland Council, owners of Ports of Auckland.
The outcome of that report was that health and safety standards at the port had indeed been neglected by what has been referred to as “systemic problems”.
The report inter alia emphasised that “significant improvements” were required to address the concerns of employees.
Whether anything has been done by Ports of Auckland since the report’s findings were made public and this morning’s walkout, remains unclear.
It is also not clear when port operations will resume.