Had the meeting this afternoon. Told the boss of my 'reluctance' to get the jab on account of uncertainty about long-term safety and risk-to-reward not seeming to be in favour. My partner took a stronger line with a point blank refusal to be injected with something against her will. I asked about whether it was due to client demand and he didn't say yes but stated that they had gone above & beyond with safety measures on the veg boxes previously, eg: lots of washing and leaving them in sunlight for a period to supposedly kill the virus with the UV rays etc. Also mentioned that his insurance talked about vaccinating staff as part of taking every precaution to minimise risk. Made a lukewarm offer to take regular lateral flow tests as a compromise but that wasn't apparently good enough.
He 'understood' our point of view and mentioned prior concerns about the MMR vaccine with one of his kids, and that maybe some of their clients had 'too much time on their hands' for getting overly fearful. Couldn't understand our 'negativity' however, in always criticising government and corporations (not just over covid), and viewed the vaccine risk as necessary for protecting wider society and saying that he preferred to try to change things he didn't like. Replying to why we had such a 'problem with authority' I told him about coming of age politically during the Iraq war, watching govt and media lie constantly ever since, and having access to alternative media on the internet to 'look behind the curtain'. It was all news to him - I'm genuinely amazed that he appeared never to have come across anyone holding these views in the organic farming scene, which he's been working in for over 10 years now.
Anyway he had to get to his main play which he put as a hypothetical: 'What if I were to say you need to get the jab or you can't work here'. Had an inkling it might come up, but somehow still came as a shock. Didn't formulate a response before my partner started to cry, saying that she wouldn't take it no matter what, that it was her body & her right to decide. That chastened him and made him apologise pretty quickly, saying he didn't mean to 'upset' her. I fell back on my yes-man diplomacy of saying we were sorry for the awkward position it put them in, that really our issue was with the government and they were 'caught in the crossfire' and we really didn't enjoy making things difficult for them etc etc. which seemed to defuse some of the tension.
We agreed to leave it there for now, and he'd have a think about ways to maybe get round it. Don't feel like he wants us gone, but it could still come to that, we'll see. It might depend if he can find two replacement workers this far into the season!
Pretty sobering to see this kind of authoritarian coercion in person. Wasn't expecting it, but maybe I should have. I don't blame the guy particularly - with the usual total lack of clarity or guidance from official bodies it's down to individuals to enforce things as they see fit, so they end up doing the dirty work that government is too sly to do themselves by making it a legal requirement for everyone to sign up to the control measures they so clearly want to introduce. Still pretty sickening, and I realise I have my own decision of whether I want to continue to work in a place where threats like that can be made. But won't it be the same everywhere else? If not now then before very long? Am I going to have to join the anti-vaxxers and libertarian nutters in the streets now??
Funny old world...