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New Zealand: Health Ministry refuses Covid exemption for potato crisp and biscuit workers

The Ministry of Health is moving to counter criticism that it is using its powers to exempt trucks and workers moving in and out of Auckland to restrict workers going to jobs in potato crisp factories. Richard Harman reports for POLITIK.

The chief executive of the Food and Grocery Council, Katherine Rich, is particularly critical that the role of granting the exemption to cross in and out of the Auckland Council region has shifted from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to the Ministry of Health.

“Applications for critical roles in factories like maintenance and manufacturing engineers and machinery operators in biscuit, bar and potato snack factories have been flat-out declined, no reason given, meaning production has had to be scaled back,” she said yesterday.

“No one expects the Ministry of Health to be a champion of chips and cookies, but I hope that wasn’t a factor in declining such key manufacturing food roles.”

In a statement to POLITIK, a Ministry spokesperson said the Ministry was currently processing an application from a business in the biscuit, bar and potato snack industry. A spokesperson for Health Minister Chris Hipkins that this was not a matter for the Minister; “This is a Ministry of Health health-based decision,” the spokesperson said. “Politicians can’t come in over the top.”

Source: POLITIK. Read the full report here
Photo: CEO, NZ Food and Grocery Council, Katherine Rich

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