DP WORLD Australia is mandating all employees receive a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccination by 15 October and receive a second dose by 15 November.

The company said it strongly supports COVID-19 vaccination and, consistent with the Australian government’s advice, this will enable a move towards living with COVID-19.

“As a tier 1 employer, with essential workers interacting with vessel crews at ports of entry, our employees and their families have been eligible for priority access to vaccinations since March 2021,” the company said.

“DP World Australia has been reviewing our risk controls to ensure the ongoing safety of employees and maintaining operational continuity to keep vital supplies moving across the Australian supply chain.”

The recent positive COVID-19 case at DPWA’s Port Botany terminal this week has had a significant impact on operations, the stevedore said.

“We have a comprehensive COVID safety management plan in place. We have further made the decision to make COVID-19 vaccination for all employees and contractors a condition of engagement. Employees will need to ensure they have received their first dose by Friday, 15 October 2021 and a second dose by no later than Monday, 15 November 2021,” the company said.

“We have commenced consultation with our workforce and our health and safety representatives to discuss the details of the policy and rollout.”

CEO Andrew Adam said as a critical part of the Australian supply chain, DP World Australia needs to ensure the ongoing safety of employees and maintaining business continuity of import and export cargo.

“The recent experience at Port Botany and the resulting 36 close contacts so far, who are now required to self-isolate for 14 days, has highlighted to DP World that vaccination status plays a key role in reducing the exposure risks,” he said.

“We will always continue to ensure the health and safety of our workforce and by taking this step we ensure we are taking all reasonable steps to create a safe workplace for all.”

Maritime Union of Australia assistant national secretary Adrian Evans said DP World Australia’s vaccine mandate was a “kneejerk reaction” that will create unnecessary angst in the workplace.

“It is outrageous that DP World chose to mandate COVID vaccinations for its workforce without consulting its employees or their union,” he said.

“To be clear, we encourage our members to get vaccinated and we accept the expert health advice, but we don’t accept DP World’s HR managers taking a decision to mandate vaccination without consultation. There are much better ways to work though this pandemic with the workforce.”

This article was updated at 0922 on 17 September to include comment from the MUA.