There is a real sense of anger among care and support workers following the government’s announcement to force compulsory vaccinations on the workforce. It has been a bitter pill to swallow. We have spent the past 18 months risking our lives in unsafe workplaces, following ever changing government guidelines and trying to stay on top of the science to keep those we support safe.
At Care and Support Workers Organise! we encourage every care worker to have the vaccination. However, we agree with the British Medical Association, who have warned compulsion is “a blunt instrument that carries its own risks”.
We stand with Unite and Unison who have come out strongly against forced vaccinations. This announce could trigger another mass exodus from already understaffed workplaces in a sector with over 110, 000 vacancies.
If the government wants to appeal to our “professionalism”, maybe they shouldn’t have deemed our work “unskilled”, and pay us poverty wages.
There is an understanding from care workers that this is a cynical move by the government, diverting the systematic failures of the past 18 months on to individual actions of care workers. There was a needless PPE crisis, insufficient sick pay, and discharging of people back into care homes too early, allowing the virus to spread like wildfire.
It is important to recognise the consequences of this announcement is gendered, affecting mainly working-class women. The government targeted care workers as they recognise there will be little resistance.
We remain largely unorganised following years of outsourcing and working and atomised workplaces. It comes as no surprise they did not start this policy with NHS workers.
• Ali Treacher is Secretary of Care and Support Workers Organise! (CaSWO!) For our recent interview with her see here.