News from the rank and file

Simon Pearson rounds up some of the latest news from the trade union movement.

Care sector could collapse over double-jab chaos

Unison warns that the double-jab rule risks collapsing the care sector. The care sector is already facing a staffing crisis and Unison is correct to highlight that some care homes could be forced to close. The closure of any care home would be upsetting for residents and staff, but also put the sector under severe strain as residents would have to be rehomed in the challenging winter period. This tory government needs to recognise that the care sector is under pressure and the deadline for staff to be double jabbed MUST be pushed back to at least April next year. Everyone that can have the vaccine should have the vaccine, after all, there can be little doubt that the mass vaccination program has saved lives and would continue to do so in the care sector. However, the government’s approach to mandatory vaccination and its management by diktat is not going to get the desired result. Unison is correct that hesitant workers should have the benefits of vaccination explained and be encouraged with the carrot rather than the stick.

To make matters worse the Health Secretary has now announced that all NHS workers must be double-jabbed by 1 April 2022. This announcement fails to take into account the excellent work in vaccine take up being managed by individual NHS trusts. It seems the tories have failed to heed the wise words from those working in NHS trusts and the care sector and now risk making the same mistake twice.

Resources should instead be used to persuade hesitant workers of the benefits of taking the jab, says UNISON. The union says the government could also consider mandatory daily testing for non-vaccinated care home workers as an alternative.

Unison press statement

Care have employers warned of the dire consequences of a draconian approach. The staffing crisis will become a catastrophe for a sector already on its knees.

Some homes may have to close if care staff are barred from their jobs. The upheaval and distress caused to many elderly residents and their families would be disastrous.

Forcing the vaccine on care staff is an own goal by the government. Take-up rates will only increase with persuasion, not punishment.

UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea

IWW prove unions can run a piss up in a brewery

The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) have a visual style that is unique within the trade union movement. The latest campaign to catch the eye was one celebrating the launch of an IWW Brewery Workers Union. We raise a glass to all those involved in this new endeavour.

Have you had your Weetabix?

Well maybe you shouldn’t, that is until the Weetabix Food Company listens to the demands of Unite and the 80 engineers at their factories in Corby and Kettering. The union claims workers are being subjected to ‘fire and rehire’ tactics, which is where workers are dismissed thus depriving them of hard-won pay and conditions, then being rehired on more favourable terms for the employer. Workers should always stand up to this despicable practice.

Weetabix is making bumper profits so there is no justification for these ‘fire and rehire’ attacks on our members’ wages and conditions. They are just not swallowing what in reality is a serving of corporate greed.

sharon graham, unite general secretary

These boots are made for walking all over us

In the long-running dispute between the Community Union and shoe retailer Clarks, Community has been forced to complain to the government about the alleged use of agency staff being brought in to cover for striking warehouse workers. Employers should know that it is illegal for an employment agency to supply temporary workers to perform the duties of those undertaking industrial action. Clarks claim they have acted in accordance with the law but the Community union felt it was left with no choice but to report one individual to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The Clarks desert boots this writer was planning to purchase will be remaining on the shelves until this dispute is settled.

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Simon Pearson is on the Editorial Board of the Anti*Capitalist Resistance and is a Midlands-based political activist.

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