The branch committee of the National Tertiary Education Union at the University of Melbourne yesterday called on their employer to hold off on a vaccine mandate and to discuss COVID safety with union members.
The motion read: “The branch committee calls on the university to NOT issue a vaccine mandate at this time, and to engage with staff and NTEU about the full suite of measures that will be required for a COVID-safe return to campus for staff.”
A members’ meeting will discuss the issue on 7 October.
The committee earlier rejected a motion supporting an employer mandate.
In the run-up to the meeting, committee member Hannah McCann wrote a powerful case on Twitter against the union movement falling in behind vaccine mandates.
We present it unedited and in full.
“Unpopular opinion time—I think we need to get some things straight about the protests happening in Melbourne, otherwise we’re never going to get out of this mess.
“First, every single report has stated that it’s not just right wing actors. Yes they have jumped on and inflamed the situation to union-busting ends. But many people involved have had legitimate concerns and should have a right to protest.
“The closure of tea rooms might seem trite to people but the other measures—having to get vaccinated *within the week* to continue work(!) are pretty awful in a context where a) the fed govt has done nothing to address AZ fear; b) Pfizer is in short supply.
“The response from the union movement to dismiss the protests as merely right wing undermines members with actual concerns and does nothing to promote vaccination or other safety measures needed.
“And let’s talk about mandatory vax: there’s pretty broad consensus among experts (WHO for example) that there are huge ethical issues but most importantly it’s just *not* what helps most in terms of facilitating vaccination.
“On this note I don’t think the attempts to promote the idea that not getting vaccinated is akin to ‘being a scab’ is going to help AT ALL.
“What we need is solidarity from the union movement broadly to get our comrades on board—who, like so many, have been profoundly negatively impacted by pandemic. People are struggling.
“MOST importantly since when are we comfortable with such an immense police presence in our city. They brought in a tank yesterday. A TANK. We should not be comfortable with this AT ALL.
“And for those who want to analyse all this in terms of ‘toxic masculinity’ ‘violence’ ‘fascism’ etc etc well I think you’ve missed the heart of the matter, which is (sorry to say) material conditions. Do we really lose our abolitionism so easily?
“The violence of protestors letting off flares and taking up space (yes, some scary and entitled actors in there, I agree), is nothing to compared to the violence of the state that we are witnessing.
“The only way out of this mess is solidarity, or we will 100% lose our comrades to those most terrifying right wing white nationalists preying on them.”