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From The Socialist newspaper, 19 January 2022

Employers use vaccine excuse to attack sick pay

Mandatory vaccination is being used as an attempt by bosses and the government to divide workers Photo: Christian Emmer/CC

Mandatory vaccination is being used as an attempt by bosses and the government to divide workers Photo: Christian Emmer/CC   (Click to enlarge)

Scott Jones, Socialist Party in Usdaw

Ikea has become the latest company to cut sick pay for unvaccinated workers who need to self-isolate because of Covid, and in some cases for workers who test positive.

Sick pay cuts will also be implemented at Wessex Water, and last year supermarket Morrisons cut sick pay terms. Others have a 'no jab, no job' policy like in social care in England.

While the move has been prompted by rising Covid cases and staff absences, this is just the latest in a long line of attacks on sickness pay in retail, with most supermarket workers not being paid for the first three days of absence already, and then paid only £96.35-a-week Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) afterwards in most cases. Now companies are using the pandemic to divide the workforce and withhold pay.

At Ikea, unvaccinated workers who do not have mitigating circumstances and test positive will be paid in line with company sick pay, but unvaccinated workers without mitigating circumstances and required to isolate owing to being identified as a close contact, will now receive only the minimum SSP.

But it's unclear who decides what is mitigating or not, is it the bosses?

The shop workers' union Usdaw calls itself the union for Ikea workers, but hasn't said anything about the company stripping unvaccinated workers of proper sick pay.

Such a policy is more likely to push workers towards dangerous conspiracy movements as it is to encourage workers to get vaccinated. Those who may be sceptical about the jab or have concerns about side effects, should be properly informed about the benefits and risks instead of being financially penalised, or in some cases forced out of a job. Unions must defend workers and fight divisive policies.

It shows the need for workers' and trade union control and oversight in the workplace to ensure safety and fair and equal treatment of workers. Trade unions must oppose any repressive compulsion of workers to get vaccinated and attacks on those who don't. But it must also fight for democratic, working-class oversight of the pandemic response, to give workers confidence that decisions are being made in the interests of workers' safety and not capitalist profits.

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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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