Met with the boss on Weds. He said he'd had a look at the risk assessment forms he had to sign, checked Food Standards Agency advice and looked at the Scottish govt's requirements for seasonal farm workers (geared towards foreign migrant labour but British nationals apparently get put in the same category). Haven't been able to find the docs he mentioned but don't think he would be lying, might be wrong... He mentioned the ACAS guidance of 'redeployment' for employees who remained unpersuaded but said this wouldn't be possible in the context of a small farm business where everybody had to pitch in with veg picking and packing duties. So he called it an 'impasse' and said he saw no option other than asking us to leave. Apparently our suggested compromise of getting regular lateral flow tests wasn't an option to allow him to fill his paperwork in good conscience. I caved in a bit more and asked if it would change things if I got the vaccine (my partner was still adamantly against it to her credit), saying I'd be willing if persuaded by a medical professional on the long-term safety concerns. Still no dice. We've got 3 weeks and then we've got to be gone before the first delivery of the season. At least he was a bit more respectful about it this time.
I've contacted local citizens advice and the Landworkers Alliance to see if they have any suggestions, but at this point it looks like we have to suck it up and start looking for somewhere else. In the middle of the growing season too, grrr... Might have to be wwoofing or other volunteer work until people start hiring again at the end of the year. Rather unfortunate when your employment is tied to your living situation as well! Doesn't look like unfair dismissal applies until after 2 years, and not sure if I've got the stomach for a court case to fight the horrible precedent. Would like it to at least be recorded and noted somewhere it could inform future policy, which is where I'd like the LWA to come in. No other union or other representative organisation that I'm aware of is going to stick up for people in this precarious sector of the economy.
'Alternative' agriculture my arse - at the first challenge all their values evaporate and they are just as keen, if not moreso than the rest of society, to act as unpaid enforcers for the state. Something about the words 'health' and 'risk' are magic buttons that make people drop their critical thinking and go along with any old nonsense, it seems. Is it dominance of the insurance industry, health and safety culture, or watching too many adverts for domestos? Either way, great to know the culture of automatic, unthinking obedience means I'll be kicked out of my home and out on the streets* for the crime of forming an independent opinion.
(For the record I hasten to add I haven't formed the opinion that the whole thing has been a giant hoax/conspiracy.)
/rant, thanks for listening.
* - hopefully this will turn out to be an exaggeration! We both have family networks we can rely on if work is impossible to find - a security not everybody has.