Red StagTimber offers cash incentive for double vaxxed workers

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2021-11-24 12:10:56

A Rotorua timber company is dishing out big bucks in a bid to get as many workers possible double dosed.

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Photo: 123rf

Next week the PM will reveal what level each region will enter the new Covid-19 traffic light system at – with vaccination rates a key fact.

Rotorua, where timber company Red Stag is based, has double jab rates of just 77 percent with Māori lagging even further behind at just 60 percent.

Red Stag Timber CEO Marty Verry told Checkpoint the $3000 he is offering to staff to get fully vaccinated is to protect their workforce and families, and help ensure they can keep operating next year.

The offer is for about 400 people, he said.

Each worker will have to meet certain vaccination requirements to qualify for a $2000 bonus next month while the final thousand will be paid out next year, he said.

“First of all they need to be double vaccinated by the end of this month and for those that can’t make it in time because they’ve only just started getting vaccinated we’ve pushed it out to the end of January.

“Basically, we’re putting a December bonus this year of a thousand dollars and then those who stay vaccinated next year get another thousand dollars in December,” Verry said.

Workers will have to confirm their vaccination status using the My Covid record app.

Verry said the company’s vaccination rates were at about 70 percent a month ago and he was waiting to find out the confirmed vaccination rate among staff on 1 December.

However, he said the financial incentive has already caused a spike in the uptake of the vaccine.

“Those people sitting on the fence seem to have been insisted to make that decision… we’re not expecting to get 100 (percent vaccination rate) but we would like to.

“We’re just really trying to make sure that we look after our staff and their colleagues and families but we really want to make sure that we can operate next year and not have shutdowns of the site so we’re sort of thinking well the best way to do that is to make sure there is as many people vaccinated as possible.”

Verry said the incentive was essentially a “fence at the top of the cliff” strategy.

After looking at financial forecasts for the next year, he realised the company was looking at a surplus and decided to give back to his staff.

Staff had worked hard to keep up with the demands of the construction industry and increasing vaccination rates would allow the company to reach their targets, Verry said.

“Because we supply about 30 percent of the structural timber in New Zealand we’ve got so many clients and so many builders and all the tradespeople that flow from that are reliant on Red Stag for operating so there’s quite a responsibility there and we thought lets do everything we can to get ahead of it.”

Part of the bonus came from unused wage subsidy money, he said.

“They’re going to use it better in the local community than if we give it back to the central government. The local community needs it with the tourism numbers having turned off so whatever we can do to support the local community.”

“The company is tracking okay into next year we think we’re going to have that equivalent of money available to distribute as an extra bonus (for fully vaccinated staff).”

Verry said Red Stag had taken approximately $2 million dollars in wage subsidy from the Government.

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