Sacking non-vaccinated care workers will not save lives
Nurse injection healthcare NHS Employers (Creative Commons), photo NHS Employers (Creative Commons) (Click to enlarge)
The Tories' announcement that care home workers will have to be vaccinated to retain their jobs is a deliberate, if somewhat botched, attempt to distract attention from their appalling safety record on Covid-19. Boris Johnson is trying to crudely hijack and exploit understandable concerns about safety for elderly or sick adults to cause divisions between ordinary people.
As a trade union organiser, I have spent fifteen months supporting workers in the social care sector as they fought their employers for adequate PPE, testing, staffing levels and rest breaks to keep people comfortable and alive.
I have also had to occasionally represent workers who, for reasons I may disagree with but which they nevertheless sincerely hold, refused to wear masks or have tests. A minority don't want the vaccination. Most, in my experience, because of concerns about the vaccine's potential effect on their current health rather than any, more speculative, anti-vaccination stance in general. Behind this is often a genuine and justified distrust of the Tory government with their horrendous record over Covid, and the inequalities of capitalism.
A populist kneejerk reaction will do nothing to save lives and will, conversely, endanger them.
There are up to 120,000 social care vacancies in England at any one time, caused by poverty pay levels, atrocious working conditions, and bullying bosses. Adding to this crisis by sacking workers is the height of irresponsibility and stupidity.
Being vaccinated in itself does not necessarily prevent someone being a carrier. Workers who have had the vaccine still need testing. But carers no longer being there at all will cost lives!
Extending these plans to NHS staff, as has been suggested by vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi, would cause huge, unnecessary disruption to a service already in deep crisis, with chronic understaffing. Any compulsory vaccination could also lead to potential human rights legal actions against the government, costing millions from the public purse.
The unions must get agreements now, from local authorities and the NHS, that workers can be redeployed into non-caring provision roles. However, this may be virtually impossible for workers in the thousands of non-union-recognised employers providing social care for profit.
If health and social care was brought into democratic public ownership, the process of redeployment on equivalent pay, terms and conditions would be entirely possible. It would also enable the provision of adequate PPE and testing required to keep social care workers, and those using the services, safe.
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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.
The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.
The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.
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- When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 23 June 2021:
What we think
Chesham and Amersham by-election
NHS in crisis - 'It's time for action'
Outsourced London hospital workers fight for better pay
Leicester private healthcare tragedy
Exeter Trades Council backs NHS protests
Northern Ireland and Brexit
Sacking non-vaccinated care workers will not save lives
Furlough reduction risks job losses
Building back better? Fight for a socialist recovery
Anti-protest bill breaches human rights
Tories deliberately underfund childcare
Unite general secretary contest: Vote for Sharon Graham
NSSN conference 2021
NSSN conference 2021: When given a lead workers will fight
Women and the criminal 'injustice' system
Tory review won't deliver justice for rape victims
Iran's presidential election
Are Biden's immigration policies a break with Trump's?
Interview with newly elected Unison NEC member and hospital worker
Gateshead: Bosses sack sparks protesting for safety measures
Oaks Park school strike against bully bosses
Leicestershire engineers' fifth week of strikes against fire and rehire
DVLA dispute: Escalation needed
Warehouse workers fight 50% cut in redundancy pay
Carmarthenshire: Fighting for trade union recognition at council-owned company
TUSC calls for local 'People's Budget' campaigns
Youth Fight For Jobs: more urgent than ever
London Socialist Party young members' day school
'Socialism is the hope of the world'
Fighting Fund target smashed!
Book review: Shuggie Bain
Response to Observer article on China
The Socialist 23 June 2021 |
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