Councils moving towards mandatory vaccination


The last issue of depaNews should not have been confronting or surprising. Everyone was sick of lockdown and we’ve all had five more weeks of it – now over 100 days in Sydney and surrounds. Infection numbers are slowly coming down, we’re all getting desensitised and it’s a positive sign that in NSW Health figures on 5 October, there were “only” seven people who died and we’re down to 608 cases.

NSW Health also announced that 88.5% of the state’s eligible population 16 and over have had a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 67.5% are fully vaccinated - tantalisingly close to the 70% fully vaccinated to allow the relaxation of restrictions.

We had a few members unhappy with the message, wanting to reserve their rights to remain unvaccinated and have depa advocate for them when the inevitable mandatory vaccination restrictions are imposed at work. Overwhelmingly the response was supportive. Members from all over the state with one responding, “thank you for your support of mandatory vaccination and for the no fuss no-frills clarity”. “No fuss no-frills clarity”, that should be on the depaNews masthead.

Even an unprecedented thank you and congratulations from one GM who, to be kind, has shared a mutual psychopathic antagonism with us for decades. Odd bedfellows, indeed.

There was lively debate, someone who should have known better defended their position by saying “I note the NSW Health Orders don’t currently allow local governments to require the whole of our workforce to be vaccinated” (which was wrong), some flimsy defence of the right to remain unvaccinated, “I know people with side effects from jabs, I am yet to meet someone whose (sic) had Covid”, some confusion about what our role was, emphasised like this “ Are you for real, you represent me, not the Council. I pay YOU the union fees. NOT the Council!” Noting the employer’s onerous obligations under the Work Health Safety Act, and what that will mean for employees, is not representing the Council, it’s recognising the reality.

And some sensible discussion as well, with one poor person complaining that already in social situations they’re being asked about their vaccination status and finding it uncomfortable - so life was going to get increasingly more difficult for that person.

Councils are well-advanced in how to deal with the inevitable return to the office. While we’re not briefed on all councils, there are substantial steps being taken with surveys of staff to test their attitude on mandatory vaccination and their anxiety about allowing unvaccinated people to mix freely with those who are vaccinated. It’s only a matter of time now before councils, based upon overwhelming support from their workforce, lock the unvaccinated out.

The NSW Supreme Court last week heard arguments from a mixed bag of opponents of mandatory vaccination and a decision is reserved. But the argument in favour of mandatory vaccination is increasingly compelling.

It’s all about the law, about safe workplaces, and last issue we provided a copy of our barrister’s legal advice to us, and here you can see his compelling and overwhelming presentation circulating in the legal profession, councils and unions, providing even more support.

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