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23 June 2021

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Sacking non-vaccinated care workers will not save lives

Nurse injection healthcare NHS Employers (Creative Commons), photo NHS Employers (Creative Commons)

Nurse injection healthcare NHS Employers (Creative Commons), photo NHS Employers (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge)

Glynn Doherty

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.

Staff shortage

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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Finance appeal

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.

Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.

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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 election

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?

Workplace news

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!

Readers' Opinion

Book review: Shuggie Bain

Response to Observer article on China


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Related links:

Care workers:

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triangleReaders' comments


triangleReaders' comments

triangleMake vaccine technology public, nationalise big-pharma


triangle'Pingdemic' exemptions

Article dated 23 June 2021

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