Our Ref: HSR/1/3
Head Office Circular: NP/358/21
20th September 2021
To: The Secretary
COVID-19 – NO JAB, NO JOB POLICIES
Your National Executive Committee (NEC) met on 15th September 2021 to discuss a report from its Health and Safety Sub-committee relating to a resolution carried by the Wessex Regional Council:
This Wessex Regional Council notes with concern that ‘no jab, no job’ policies have already been introduced by some employers and are likely to become more common. TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said in February 2021 that, “the government should make clear that making vaccination a condition of employment is the wrong approach. It may be discriminatory and open up employers to legal challenge.” Unite Assistant General Secretary Howard Beckett has said that such a policy would be “a disgraceful attempt to create a divisive narrative around workers and the vaccine.”
This Regional Council believes that ‘no jab, no job’ policies are a fundamental attack on workers’ rights. The ability of a worker to earn a wage should not be conditional upon having a Covid-19 vaccination. No worker should be compelled to have a vaccination against their will just to be able to get or keep a job. ‘No jab, no job’ policies may also constitute discrimination in employment based on social belief and on medical grounds.
This Regional Council calls upon the NEC to instruct the General Secretary to:
– Ensure support for any member whose livelihood is placed at risk by an employer’s ‘no jab, no job’ policy.
– Join the TUC, Unite, UNISON and other unions in campaigning against ‘no jab, no job’ policies, and if deemed beneficial to liaise and work with them regarding any legal actions stemming from these discriminatory policies.
It is increasingly clear that this issue of mandatory vaccination has the potential to affect members of this Union across sectors and industries. Accordingly, we request the NEC instruct the General Secretary to establish a Working Party, where members, concerned about the ramifications of this Human Rights issue can meet to discuss how to respond to any employers demands for mandatory vaccination. The Working Party would also serve the purpose of providing support for members worried about their livelihoods being threatened, who may feel isolated and under pressure.
We would ask the establishment of the Working Party to be brought to the attention of all Branches and Regional Councils.
The report adopted by the NEC is as follows:
We note the resolution received from Wessex Regional Council.
The RMT position has been to encourage all those members who can to get vaccinated. For example, we worked with RICF (Rail Industry Corona Virus Forum) on a joint campaign that encouraged staff to get vaccinated. We believe that such an approach is preferable to a coercive “no jab, no job” strategy.
We are not aware of any employers where RMT have members that currently have a “no jab, no job” policy. Where employers have mooted such a policy RMT have made clear our opposition, sought immediate legal advice, and arranged urgent meetings with the Company to discuss the issue - and in the face of such an approach the employer has backtracked. We will continue with such an approach and will review when and if necessary.
Branches and Regional Councils to be advised.
Please bring the contents of this circular to the attention of relevant members.