Our Ref: HSR/1/3
Head Office Circular: NP/374/21
11th October 2021
To: The Secretary
ALL ODIA ASSOCIATED GRADES
MANDATORY COVID-19 VACCINATIONS - SUBSEA 7
We are receiving concerns from members who have chosen not to be vaccinated and are keen to know what the RMT stance is, now that a growing number of contracting companies are being instructed by their clients that only vaccinated workers will be allowed to travel to their respective offshore projects and operations. This requirement by ‘clients’ is being made on health and safety grounds where, due to the nature of the confined working environment of offshore installations and vessels, the clients are applying a risk assessment process with the objective being to reduce risks to the workforce to a level which is considered to be ‘as low as reasonably practicable’. The clients (duty holders) argue it is entirely reasonable to adopt this approach as they have a duty of care to all workers on their sites. We appreciate members may have an opinion on this.
RMT has requested that every case is looked at individually and that the personal circumstances of individual workers who have not been vaccinated should be assessed before a decision is taken. Although we encourage members to be vaccinated, RMT maintains it is a decision for the individual whether they are vaccinated or not and that no worker should be forced to take the vaccine as a condition of employment. RMT can assure members we will seek to defend you in the event you are discriminated against or threatened with dismissal in these circumstances. However, this is a new area of Employment Law and as yet, it is untested, meaning we cannot guarantee a successful outcome in these circumstances. There is inevitably the potential that contractors following government, scientific and legal advice and acting in accordance with their respective client’s requirements to protect the wider workforce, will look to terminate employment using the ‘for some other substantive reason’ provision in statute. We would of course wish to avoid this scenario ever arising, however, and to achieve this we are calling on all employers in the sector not to make this a mandatory requirement and instead continue with a tried and tested process of isolation and testing for those unwilling or unable to be vaccinated.
Following a report from the Lead Officer containing members’ concerns about “mandatory requirements to be double jabbed", your NEC, at its meeting on 7th October 2021, resolved as follows:
That we note the report on file and concerns of the lead officer.
We instruct the General Secretary to compile a circular as per the report to all ODIA associated grades.
Relevant Branches and Regional Councils to be informed.
I will keep you advised of developments.