Wednesday 22 September 2021

Netherlands unlikely to introduce compulsory vaccination

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Dutch employers and unions will not be lobbying for compulsory vaccination against coronovirus because the high vaccination rate in the Netherlands would make such a controversial move unnecessary, Dutch media report.

The reaction came as Google and Facebook introduced compulsory vaccination for their American-based staff and similar moves are underway elsewhere.

However, the consistent refusal of part of the population to be vaccinated and the rapid spread of the virus may change this, the Financieele Dagblad said. Earlier this month caretaker prime minister Mark Rutte said considering the ‘very high vaccination rate’ there are no plans to make vaccination compulsory but that ‘nothing can be ruled out completely in a pandemic’.

A spokesman for employers’ organisation VNO-NCW told the paper compulsory vaccination ‘is not an issue for members at all’. ‘Some 90% of people are willing to be vaccinated, that is extremely high. There is no need for further measures,’ he said.

Union FNV said it had not had any complaints from workers who had been pressurised into getting vaccinated by their employers. ‘What Facebook and Google are doing is simply not allowed here,’ a spokesman said.

However, labour law lawyer Katja van Kranenburg, who has been fielding questions about the subject on a weekly basis from international employers, said that this is not the case.

‘The European privacy regulations do provide an opening for this, contrary to popular opinion,’ Van Kranenburg claimed. ‘I think that in a healthy democracy this should be a matter for debate and should not be left up to employers to organise in a grey area.’

While compulsory vaccination is not yet being contemplated for any groups in this country, France and Italy are already introducing compulsory vaccination for healthcare workers.

That would be a start, Van Kranenburg told the paper. Labour law regulations should be adapted to allow employers in high risk professions to demand staff be vaccinated. She also pointed out that businesses may be held liable for damages by coronavirus patients who have been infected at work because of a lack of preventive measures.

Such a move would be very likely to lounder as most political parties are not in favour of compulsory vaccination, the NRC pointed out. Self determination and the integrity of the body are enshrined in the Dutch constiution and the European Convention of Human Rights. The consensus is that the government cannot force people to get the vaccine.

People’s willingness to be vaccinated is ‘our  trump card’,  the paper quoted caretaker health minister Hugo de Jonge as saying. To  bring the matter up for debate could have an opposite effect, he warned earlier this week.

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