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From The Socialist newspaper, 19 January 2022

Tory vaccine sacking threat set to deepen NHS staffing crisis

Poorer nations in Africa and Asia will face a struggle to obtain vaccines

Poorer nations in Africa and Asia will face a struggle to obtain vaccines   (Click to enlarge)

Holly Johnston, NHS nurse and GMB rep

86,000 NHS staff face the sack in April if they do not have the Covid-19 vaccine. There are already nearly 100,000 vacancies in the NHS, with 27,000 staff having left between July and September. Making the vaccines mandatory has the potential to tip an already overwhelmed service and stretched workforce over the edge. We simply cannot afford to haemorrhage staff at the worst time in the history of the NHS.

No doubt some capitalists hope that the current staff shortage crisis could be the final nail in the coffin for the NHS, opening it up for further privatisation. Outsourcing agencies already staff large parts of the NHS, making a profit in the process.

Around 95% of NHS staff are already vaccinated. Introducing mandatory vaccination will not convince the remaining 5%. Instead, the government's policy seeks to divide health workers and deflect blame for its disastrous handling of the pandemic and underfunding of the NHS.

There are many reasons for people's hesitancy to get the vaccine. Speaking to colleagues as a union rep, many anxieties are eased with education and information. Some reasons include cultural and health issues which cannot simply be address by being told they are 'wrong'. Others are concerned about having time off with side effects and not being able to afford it, many on precarious zero-hour contracts with no sick pay.

I also have colleagues that are concerned that the vaccine will 'set-off' their arthritis for example, or worried it will affect their fertility. The government and NHS bosses, who have given us a dismal 3% pay rise - a real-terms pay cut - left us to work through the pandemic with insufficient PPE, and carried out years of cuts and privatisation, are widely hated and distrusted. They are in no position to convince workers to get the vaccine and the threat of the sack makes it worse.

The health unions need to take a lead. This includes making the case to workers of the benefits of widespread vaccination and opposing making it mandatory, as well as stepping up the fight for a 15% pay rise, which in itself would help address the NHS staffing shortage.

The Tories want to capitalise on the divisions over vaccination. The Socialist Party fights for a political programme that unites workers in a struggle for the NHS we need: a 15% pay rise, to bring outsourced NHS workers back in-house, and for a fully funded, publicly owned and democratically run health service.

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In The Socialist 19 January 2022:


What we think

Tories on the ropes


News

Want to fight austerity?

No trust in Tories to keep us safe

Tories hand cash to private health profiteers

Tory vaccine sacking threat set to deepen NHS staffing crisis

Employers use vaccine excuse to attack sick pay

News in brief


International news

Murder of Ashling Murphy sends shocks waves across Ireland and beyond

Northern Ireland: Workers fight threatened closure of women's hostel

US: Independent Socialist Group launches new paper

Eyewitness account of workers' uprising in Almaty, Kazakhstan


Public services

Mutual aid, the welfare state and the fight for a new mass workers' party


Marxist classics

Why are things the way they are?


Rob Windsor

Rob Windsor - remembering a tireless fighter for socialism


Theatre

Theatre: Yes Yes UCS


Workplace news

Sheffield Just Eat couriers speak about strike

S Yorks Stagecoach strike results in "huge pay win"

Scunthorpe scaffs resume indefinite strike action

Coventry bin strike continues

Bus driver Tracey Scholes reinstated at Go North West

Royal Mail: Unofficial walkouts precede bigger battle to come on pay and workload

Newham college strike solid against bully privatisers

Somers Forge workers continue pay strike

Workplace news in brief


Campaigns

NUS walkout: Organise to fight for free education on 2 March

Demonstrating against the Tory anti-protest bill

Waltham Forest: Campaign unites families facing eviction

Newham council rejects using 0.03% of reserves to fund arts

Birmingham: Cuts consultations replaced by computer game

Southampton uni ignores staff and students in exam farce

Oliver Campbell - 31 years fighting for justice

Bournemouth - angry people not represented by capitalist parties

Pauline Wall memorial meeting


 

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