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Last week we ran a news item issued by the British Cleaning Council, revealing that the UK's cleaning & hygiene industry is suffering severe staff shortages with the rate of vacancies having increased dramatically. It warned that this could hamper the nation's recovery from Covid-19. I believe things are about to get a lot worse and it's not just the UK that concerns me.
Regular readers of my Leaders over the past two decades will know that I've always championed our cleaners, saying that if they ever all downed tools, our entire system would collapse. Since the pandemic began, I've referred to them as frontline workers. Now I fear that, as a vital part of both our care system and our National Health Service, they may shortly leave those sectors in droves thanks to our government's insistence that care and NHS workers can only remain in employment (care workers from today and NHS workers from April 2022) if they're 'fully vaccinated' - whatever that may mean in the future - against Covid-19. I assume this will also mean cleaning staff.
I know this is going to be controversial but I feel very strongly that when faced with the option of 'jab or job', many of those whose role it is to clean up after the rest of us and make our environment safe, will simply down tools and find work elsewhere, where they still have a choice over what chemicals are introduced into their bodies and how often. Currently, in the UK at least, there are plenty of jobs available for those used to physical work who are prepared to work and are used to unsociable hours.
I'm aware that in some other countries there's already a requirement for all workers to be fully vaccinated and in others, all workers in companies over a certain size - but because of what appears to be a block on workers' reactions to these edicts, I can't tell too much about the effect this is having, in various parts of the world. When it comes to the UK and our beleaguered care system and NHS though, I fear that my predictions about the system collapsing without a dedicated and experienced cleaning workforce, may be about to be realised, and I'm very frightened about how things will eventually pan out.
If you run a cleaning business in a country where workers must be fully vaccinated, has it impacted on your ability to provide your services and if it has, have you found a solution you care to share please?
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11th November 2021