Workplace Report July 2021

Health & safety news

Unions oppose compulsory vaccination

Responding to reports that ministers intend to push ahead with compulsory vaccination of health and social care workers, unions have repeated warnings the move could backfire.

“Encouragement has the best results and research shows coercion makes the nervous less likely to be vaccinated,” said UNISON public services union general secretary Christina McAnea. “The government’s sledgehammer approach now runs the risk that some care staff may simply walk away from an already understaffed, undervalued and underpaid sector.”

The GMB general union reported that more than a third of its carers “would consider packing their jobs in if vaccines were mandated” and said the “ill thought through” plans could lead to a staff exodus.

“Compulsion is a very bad way to achieve a high level response, will lead to increased resistance, a worsening staffing crisis and is embroiled with issues such as equalities, human rights, privacy, and ethical breaches,” said Unite. It says all Covid-19 vaccination and testing regimes in the UK should be voluntary.

“A checklist of reasons behind the shocking level of infection in care homes points to a stack of government failures,” added the union’s assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail. “It is invidious that social care staff should be singled out in this fashion – it smacks of the government trying to divert attention from its massive failure to protect elderly residents.”