The race to vaccinate has finally begun. But driving it is big capital’s desperation to recover huge profit losses. Qantas needs to fly again, and corporate sports need to get back on the playing field. The Melbourne Cup is coming up! And so on. Federal and state governments are using vaccination targets to trigger the reopening of business, as rapidly as possible.
But the Delta variant has already bolted, and infections and deaths continue to rise at alarming rates. People’s safety is trailing behind profit in this race.
This online petition, Winning the vaccination race means putting the needs of people before profit, is an initiative of Radical Women to demand federal, state and territory governments to start implementing real and far-reaching solutions. Through collective action, working people and oppressed communities can reverse direction towards a different finishing line. This petition is a start. Please sign and share through your personal or organisational networks.
For more information, contact Radical Women: email@example.com
To National Cabinet and Federal, State and Territory Governments
Australia is at an impasse with the COVID pandemic. The approaches of federal, state and territory governments need to change, urgently. Strategies up to now have been inconsistent and contradictory, but they have an essential common feature: to save the profit economy. The demands of big business are paramount, even though they conflict with the needs of the majority of people. The secret contract with AstraZeneca and complacent approach to securing mRNA vaccines, combined with poor communication and constantly changing advice, have been major impediments to implementing an effective, safe and timely vaccination plan for everyone.
Workers are exposed to infection on the job, often without adequate PPE or pandemic leave. Our communities are left vulnerable, yet treated as the problem. People are justifiably fearful, sceptical and angry.
Women are especially vulnerable to infection and stress. Their paid work is concentrated in the frontline services. At home they look after families, often as primary carers. And they are facing escalated domestic violence.
Racism has put First Nations, immigrants and other communities of colour at higher risk. They have been ignored in the rollouts of community information and vaccination. They are scapegoated as super-spreaders and most heavily policed. Workers on temporary visas are denied rights to government support, such as JobKeeper, unemployment benefits and healthcare.
Hospital systems and healthcare in every state and territory have been run down through decades of privatisation — putting health workers and our communities at very grave risk.
Market competition enables rich countries, like Australia, to buy up vaccines, leaving none for poor nations. Then our governments close borders, ostensibly to keep out the disease. So many people needing to enter or leave are severely impacted by this. The safety of our communities and peoples throughout the world is intertwined. Nationalism will not protect us, but global vaccination will.
We call on the National Cabinet and federal, state and territory governments to:
- Establish a publicly owned mRNA vaccine manufacturing facility, run by vaccinologists and other scientific researchers and vaccine manufacturing workers.
- Cease outsourcing the responsibility for planning and implementing the vaccine rollout to private consultants and big corporations. Fund, train and support an expanded and well-resourced public health, vaccination and contact-tracing workforce.
- Redirect public funds from the private sector to resource public health at all levels, from hospitals to community clinics.
- Vaccinate vulnerable communities and frontline workers now: First Nations, people with disabilities, prisoners, those in remote communities and essential workers who are overwhelmingly from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. End the charade of saying they are a “priority,” when vaccination is not made accessible. Establish services in every suburb, town and remote community and in settings that are accessible and culturally safe. Make interpreters available to all who need them. Provide vaccinations to workers in their workplaces, to teenagers in their schools and to less mobile communities in their homes.
- Immediately vaccinate all frontline workers. As well as those deemed “priority,” this must include teachers and early childhood educators, death care, retail, hospitality, logistics, food production and transport workers.
- Recognise that genuine solutions to the pandemic must be global and internationally coordinated. Advocate in all forums that vaccine patents controlled by pharmaceutical giants be removed. Supply free vaccinations to poor countries.
- Enact job security for all workers and equal pay for comparable work — regardless of age and citizenship status. This would ensure that no worker’s job is expendable in times of crisis. It would also ensure that no worker would be forced to work while ill, due to the denial of paid sick leave.
- Establish free, quality aged and disability care.
- Remove the military and police from our communities.