Government’s Mistreatment of Key Workers

31 05 2021

No photos – just a rant!

I haven’t been posting on my blog lately as you may have noticed (I’ve also left a lot of forums too).  I’ve been trying to push myself into at least writing a post on why I haven’t been posting but the reason I haven’t been posting has stopped me!  That reason? Sheer naked anger at the Government and their mistreatment of key workers during the pandemic! (excluding the NHS of course who’ve been looked after – I think the Government think they are the ONLY key workers!)

Since my semi-retirement, I now work half-time in a shop – this is classed as an ‘essential’ shop so we’re open all the time through the various lockdowns.  I love my job but never realised before working in a shop how little shop staff are thought of – both by the government and many of the population.  Basically, as we’re low-paid, we’re classed as ‘two-a-penny’ or, in the case of the pandemic, ‘cannon fodder’.  If we die, no problem, lots of other people will pop up to take our places.  While the government may find this attitude comforting, rest assured, we don’t!

Our shop is particularly dangerous due to being in a very popular tourist town which, even during the lockdowns and tier systems, people were coming from all over the country (e.g. we were Tier 2 and were getting very many Tier 4 customers before Christmas).  So we were facing people from all over the country and even from abroad on a regular basis.

So, basically, I’ve been very, very angry all year and getting more so.  What about? the complete lack of vaccinations for key workers like myself.  I know I’m now ‘old enough’ to get a jab but this isn’t an age thing putting us most at risk.  Workers in essential shops like myself are facing the public every single day – en masse – from all different areas.  Many of these are refusing to wear masks as it’s easier for them to just say they’re ‘exempt’ (some are, most aren’t – we get whole groups coming in saying they’re all conveniently exempt).

Teachers are just as much at risk as we are – although they’re seeing the same people every day, the people they’re seeing are the ‘super-spreaders’, i.e. children.  I’m not sure about the percentage of youngsters who are carrying the disease but it’s a very high one.

While I’m not disputing that some people are validly exempt, the exemption system is completely flawed.  People can just decide on the day that ‘they’re exempt’ and go about as they please maskless in public as much as they want.  To be done properly, the system should have been only on the say-so of a medical professional, preferably people’s own GP and not just on people’s own say-so.  A certificate would also have been a good idea.

I also don’t really see why exempt people can’t stay away from public places and public transport more than they do.  A difficulty with wearing a mask doesn’t equal a difficulty in spreading disease and, in not wearing a mask in public, they are putting themselves at as much risk as they are putting others.  If I was genuinely exempt, there’s no way I’d be going into shops and on trains and buses without even the protection of a mask!   When I asked one unmasked young lad in our shop if he had a mask, he held up his asthma inhaler and said that’s why he was ‘exempt’.  I told him I was asthmatic too and that’s precisely the reason I was always masked in public places!  He looked a little thoughtful after that!

Every set of news headlines has a trumpeting, patting-on-the-back section for how wonderful the vaccination program in Britain has been.  Well, maybe for some…

It’s completely impossible to avoid these headlines and these have been what have mainly been winding me up.  I don’t watch the news as such and, if I’m somewhere where it’s on, when they start on about the vaccination program, I promptly walk out swearing.  But you don’t have to actively try to watch the news – it’s foisted onto you everywhere you go.  My main source is whenever I log on to check my e-mails each day, before you can access your in-box, there are the trumpeting headlines staring you in the face – they’re completely unavoidable.

In the shop, we often get abused if we even dare to ask someone if they HAVE a mask (not to wear it – just do they have one – people often forget).    One woman even stood ranting and swearing at us in the shop for over half an hour while waiting on the phone to get through to head office (I’d slipped my name badge off already).  When she got through, she completely misquoted me and said I’d insisted she wear a mask.  Luckily, the other customers at the time were also key workers and knew our situation exactly so they were sympathetic to us and not her.  My manager, who I work with, wasn’t at all put out with me for asking the question and stood by me very well which was nice and, luckily, her manager above her also did.

It was particularly angering to both myself and my manager that this woman took the attitude that we were denying her human rights by asking her if she had a mask.  Obviously, in her book, the human right of shop workers not to have the disease inflicted on them by anti-maskers just doesn’t exist.  She also said I was perpetrating a hate crime – to us it rather looked like all the hate was coming from her.  This woman was not atypical – we get many more coming in ranting and preaching at us.  Some of them even go so far as to berate the other customers for wearing masks!

I’ve written to the Minister for Health, the Department of Health, my local MP – the first two completely ignored me, my local MP just stuck to the party line each time I contacted him, saying that the vaccination program was going really well and all the old folk had been vaccinated.  He didn’t give a damn that we were in danger of death every single day we were at work.

I found it totally ridiculous that people like my mother, well in her 90s and completely housebound and living alone with no visitors, was vaccinated straight after the precious NHS and (quite rightly) care home workers.  There was no chance of her catching it unless I visited which, as her part-time carer, I had to.  I was literally the only risk she ever faced.  As I was at risk and she wasn’t, wouldn’t it have been simpler to vaccinate me, and all the other key workers, before working down the age groups?

The correct order should have been: 1) NHS workers in risky positions and care home workers, 2) essential shop workers and teachers (and possibly Police although I’m not sure how much one-to-one indoor contact they have with the public at large not having had much to do with them myself).  After this, they could have worked down the age groups to their heart’s content.

I was eventually offered a vaccination via my age group.  This incensed me even further.  I didn’t feel there was any way I could get myself vaccinated ahead of my colleagues so I refused until 2 out of the 3 had had their jabs.  Unfortunately, my manager is only 26 so she’ll probably never get one so, reluctantly,  I told her I couldn’t wait for hers and went and had mine.  I think she understood but I felt horrifically guilty.

The three of us who eventually got our vaccinations all have lung problems – I have asthma and mild COPD, they both have asthma.  Even then, only one of us got offered her jab due to having asthma.  This is again ridiculously unfair as this disease is a LUNG disease and so people with lung problems are obviously more at risk than the public at large.

I’m sure I’m right in assuming that my doctors ignored me because my asthma is so well-controlled.  It’s only well-controlled because I decided to get really fit and hillwalk all the time!  Before that, I was in hospital with life threatening attacks at least once a year!  So it angered me further that I was being penalised for taking control of my health (but then, aren’t we often?)

I was further angered by (more unavoidable) headlines about ‘Covid Passports’, i.e. places were going to start discriminating about who they let in due to their vaccination status which would be perfectly sensible if everyone had been offered one but most hadn’t.  So, as well as being expected to be ‘cannon fodder’ in the shop, us lowly shop workers (teachers and so on), were possibly not going to be allowed out for a meal, a drink in the pub, a holiday abroad etc.  This has now been cut back officially to holidays abroad but there’s nothing to stop premises over here insisting on vaccinated customers only (although they’ve lost so much money by now I’m not sure they would do that).

To me that is a total slap in the face from the government.  They’ve already made it patently clear that we’re completely dispensible in their eyes and count for nothing except cheap labour and that we can crawl away and die.  Now they’re fine with us putting ourselves at risk every day but don’t want us having a social life or any fun outside of work.

I’m not sure whether I’ll actually bother to vote in the next election as I can see that the public doesn’t really have a voice.  If I do vote though, it will no longer be Conservative – before the Brexit issue (when I started to vote things like UKIP), I always used to vote for them.

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25 responses

8 06 2021
tessapark1969

The parents forcing kids to drink bleach is unfortunately a real thing perpetrated by some awful Americans thinking it cures autism. Which clearly it doesn’t.

Totally understand how you feel, we have a lot of key workers in the family. I got my jabs early due to health conditions as you know. Can only hope this is all over before too long.

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8 06 2021
mountaincoward

Horrific! I’m amazed they haven’t killed them! It’s bad that there’s so much misinformation out there but it’s really terrible that people can’t check facts for themselves before doing something so terrible to their kids! I sometimes think people should take an exam or something before they’re allowed any!

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6 06 2021
Alli Templeton

A very eloquent rant, Carol, and I can see exactly why you feel aggrieved. I think there has been a lot of dreadful mishandling of the whole thing, and I’ve said exactly the same as you recently in that for the first time ever I don’t think I’ll bother voting next time as I don’t trust any of them. Sad state of affairs indeed. All I will say is don’t let it keep you from what you do and love best; hiking the wondrous hills and writing and photographing it so beautifully for us all to enjoy. We all need things to enjoy nowadays. Take care, and get those walking boots on. 🙂

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6 06 2021
mountaincoward

Hi Alli – I haven’t let it keep me off the hills (although some days I may have been muttering to myself on the way up) – it just stopped me posting anything! I’ve been doing as many hills as ever and even getting to new areas which I’ve really enjoyed.

Liked by 1 person

6 06 2021
Alli Templeton

Good – glad to hear it. Looking forward to reading all about them then. 🙂

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6 06 2021
mountaincoward

I’m hoping to get a post out soon but it’s from last year – I’ve still got a few posts left over from last year but I might mix them in with this year’s…

Liked by 1 person

6 06 2021
Alli Templeton

Looking forward to it. 🙂

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5 06 2021
underswansea

In Canada the messages on how to deal with the Pandemic have been mixed. For instance, people from around the world including Covid hotspots can travel here, but our citizens can not travel out of the country. These kind of decisions can only foster dissent. Within Canada the message hasn’t been much better with some provinces ignoring federal warnings to stay put. I live in British Columbia, which took an aggressive stance to limit the spread, while the province beside us ignored the pandemic and refused to implement restrictions until their positive cases and rate of infection topped all the provinces in Canada. It didn’t help that our mayor and provincial MLA continued to welcome these tourists to our community. Eventually we ran out of luck and had an out break. Ten of our staff of about twenty-five got Covid. Many very sick. The politicians mentioned above blamed the workers for spreading it in the community, They made it clear in no way was the virus brought from our neighbouring province, in which we depend so much for tourist dollars. In other words our politicians cared very little for us who work for minimum wage in the tourism sector. With that said, they did have us vaccinated for the first shot. I was happy to get it. The people recovering from cover were happy to get the shot.

Carol, you are in the front line. Be careful. Get the shot as soon as it is offered. I know you have lung issues. You don’t want to hear some numbskull politician apologizing for not doing the right thing while you are on your deathbed.

I have lost of bit of faith in humanity over watching things unfold. Double standards, mixed messages, but most of all the shear selfishness of people. Folks saying the illness will only be minor for them so why sweat it, why get vaccinated. In our family we have two great grandparents. I am glad I haven’t had to explain this to my children to do the right thing. They know what they have to do. Get the shot, it’s not about them.

Now Carol, think about this; could you imagine if the anti vaxxers and covid deniers were right and everyone else was wrong. All the people with the vaccine died off or became zombies because of Bill Gates nanobyte chip. The world would be left to all the deniers, on the dole, long exiled from good jobs and family. Those are the twits that are running the denier campaign. Shit, I’m not sure who they will even get to run the internet to perpetrate their bullshit. They better be careful what they wish for.

Take care, get out there hiking. I’m missing your comparisons of digital to film, your ability to find a crevasse to walk and shaming Richard for taking the easy route.

This shit is going to pass.

Liked by 1 person

5 06 2021
mountaincoward

Wonderful stuff! I like your reply better than my original post! But then you’re also on the front line and know exactly what I’m talking about. Terrible to hear that 10 out of 25 of your staff got sick from it and the politician’s posturing, money-grabbing and blundering!

Love your bit at the end about the antis – you’re spot on. It would be hilarious to watch! 🙂

P.S. I’m missing commenting on your blog and having the odd chat too…

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2 06 2021
treksandtors

Hmmm. Some right and some wrong here. Saying the kids are the super spreaders was right before Christmas. Not since as school kids are tested twice a week and therefore know if they have it. Shops have never been in the top 3 spreading places at any point, I know this from doing the stats for the goat, however any arguments or abuse from shoppers isn’t right. Have some people taken the piss and not worn masks, yes they have. However early in the pandemic you need to remember the guidance from the experts, to contract the virus you need to stay within 2 metres of someone with virus for 10 minutes. That doesn’t happen in a shop very often. Public transport it does, schools yes, work possibly, your own home definitely. Which is why your own family are the top spreaders to yourself.
As for the vaccine I disagree, it is a massive success run by our brilliant NHS. Track and trace is a disaster, PPE procurement a mess, the confusing rule changes and tier system was just wrong. We had two different tiers inside the same town, how is that a good thing.
However I understand your view, this pandemic has polarised views depending on positions and I admire anyone who has put pen to paper to write up their views, brilliantly described and I enjoyed reading

Liked by 1 person

2 06 2021
mountaincoward

We often have to spend quite a time with customers advising them – possibly not 10 minutes.

I don’t think regular testing helps all that much – they can test you one day and the next day you can get it. By the time they discover you have it a week later, you can have spread it to loads of others. Having said that, I didn’t know they’d started testing school kids regularly.

I’m lucky I don’t have anyone else in my house to pass it to me as I live alone.

I can’t see any way the vaccine program has been a success myself at all – it just went on age groups (after the NHS themselves of course) – I just couldn’t believe the government were happy for me to face the general public every day at work en masse and not provide a simple vaccination.

The figures for essential shop workers I saw in the report I read a few months ago were very high. Ministers said they were concerned about it and then did damn-all about it!

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2 06 2021
treksandtors

The figures for shop workers went up, but only due to the fact that most other areas were closed completely. Englands top 3 have always been family/within own home passing of virus. The schools and finally construction. Shops made the top 5 in Feb, as I said due to everything else being closed. Although the rates of transmission in shops stayed steady throughout. The vaccine program was not on age at all, I got mine in early Feb, at 45 and asthmatic and diabetic. So it was based on medical risk for the top 10 group. Then age for the rest. However you are spot on with the fact that the medical risk didn’t take into account where you worked which can increase the risk. But gathering that info would have been impossible in that time frame.
The govt has failed in lots of places on this pandemic for sure (I’m a Labour supporter normally)

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3 06 2021
mountaincoward

When you quote the figures for shops though, does that mean all shops or just essential shops? The figures for all shops would be much lower as they’d be shut for much of the time. I’d be interested in the figures for essential shops where key workers work…

I’m asthmatic too but they didn’t offer me anything before around May and then it was only on ‘age’ 😦 My age wasn’t a risk at all as I’m very healthy for my age and look after myself.

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3 06 2021
treksandtors

Figures for shops are based on where the person had been and most likely to have contracted the virus. Evidence gathered from others in the location etc. So the shop had to be open. We work out which areas we’re most risky and the highest transmitting areas. Construction always surprised me

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4 06 2021
mountaincoward

surprises me too as I thought it was mostly outdoors!

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2 06 2021
bob

Spot on Carol..I used to get worked up by government blatant lies and slogans like ‘we’re all in this together’ and ‘the party of the people’ (mainly conservative slogans) when they were so obliviously tilted towards the rich and against the poor but now It doesn’t bother me as much. I feel sorry for shop workers, bar staff, doctors, dentists etc (basically anyone who wears a mask for long periods as they are hard to wear for long periods, especially in hot weather but I always wear mine in shops.) Watched a prog last night about anti vaxxers and people really need saving from themselves- mums and dad’s who give kids bleach to drink thinking it will help, folk who believe in a flat earth etc. Unfortunately Smart phones and internet use seem to have made large sections of society dumber than ever so I can see us really struggling to get out of lockdown as too many people don’t care about rules..Luckily, I’m not really affected by it so
a year of lockdown for me have actually got easier to endure….

Liked by 1 person

2 06 2021
mountaincoward

I’ve actually enjoyed the lockdowns – but I have been very concerned for the businesses it ruins! Luckily all my favourite tearooms seem to have survived so I can go and eat lots of cakes before going up the hills!

I really hope you’re joking that people are giving their kids bleach to drink – it literally burns out your throat followed by your insides! Are they giving really weak solutions of it or something? surely it would kill them if not (and horribly). Sheer stupidity and cruelty. Some people don’t seem suitable for having children – I knew I wasn’t a suitable parent so I didn’t have any (total lack of patience in my case)!

I’m pretty used to wearing my mask all day but haven’t had to when it’s really hot yet. I noticed it was harder when it’s warmer…

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1 06 2021
Natalie Minnis

I think it’s sad that this whole Covid outbreak has been so divisive. I don’t wear a mask, because I think it’s wrong – seriously wrong – for the government to enforce such a thing. But I do try to respect people’s views, particularly if they are nervous about catching Covid. I have covered my face when in the company of a nervous person who asked me politely to do so, and also when visiting an elderly lady in a care home. But I will not do so while out and about generally. If shops insist that I wear a mask, I politely decline and shop elsewhere, but I would never get angry or make a scene about it.

According to the official figures, in the UK there have been almost two deaths (1.8) in every thousand within 28 days of a positive Covid test. These figures are widely available and can easily be verified. The official figures for Sweden are slightly less, at 1.3 per thousand, and they have not had government enforcement of masks or lockdowns.

I don’t understand why you haven’t been offered the vaccine. I’ve been offered it twice, and I’ve declined, because although I certainly believe that Covid exists, and that it can be a very nasty illness (I know people who have had it), I think my risk of getting bad symptoms from it is very low, and the vaccine carries long-term potential risks which are clearly stated in the government’s MHRA literature.

I strongly believe that medical interventions should be a matter of personal choice, and if you want the vaccine, I don’t see any reason why you should not have it. Newspaper reports say that there has only been 50% of take-up in my area of the UK, so I’m sure there’s enough to go round.

I would hope that you would also respect my decision not to have this vaccine. I had a very long, almost fatal illness as a child following a vaccination at age 18 months. I have documents written by my parents detailing what happened. I have had many vaccinations since, particularly when travelling, but these were tried and tested vaccines for diseases like yellow fever which have a very high death rate. So it was my choice to have them.

I have travelled widely, to Eastern Europe when it was still part of the Soviet empire, and to the Middle East, and I value the freedoms that we have in the UK. These rights and freedoms should never be taken for granted.

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1 06 2021
mountaincoward

It doesn’t bother me whether people choose to have the vaccine or not – I just think key workers should have been offered it much, much sooner!

The issue is divisive because it’s literally a matter of life and death. The Government have (in my view, sensibly) insisted people should wear masks in public places for the same reason. It’s not like crash helmets and seat belts, which I was always surprised at being forced to wear (although I probably would have anyway) – this is a risk to others and not just the individual.

I know masks don’t completely protect either person but I sure feel safer having to get close to people in the shop to advise them if they’re wearing one. It makes me very nervous indeed when people want me to come close to them indoors and they don’t have one on.

I would be almost certain to die if I got the disease due to my many lung problems. If I so much as get a cold I’m usually hospitalised with a serious asthma attack so I make sure I don’t go near people with colds either!

I know some people have apparently had bad reactions to the vaccine but, out of the people I know who’ve had a jab, only one had a type of ‘cold’ or mild ‘flu-type symptoms’ for a day. The rest were fine. I was so unaffected by my (eventual) first jab that I wondered whether they had genuinely given me one or not! I didn’t even have a sore arm…

Anyway, I’m not ranting at you in this reply and I respect your views… thanks for your comment

Liked by 1 person

1 06 2021
John Bainbridge

These government people live in a world where they’ve never had to hold down a real job, or get on a bus, or probably even do their own shopping.

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1 06 2021
mountaincoward

I often thought they must not ever have to approach a shop worker! To be honest, if one of them did come in the shop and I recognised them, I’m pretty sure I’d berate them about it!

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1 06 2021
John Bainbridge

Key workers should had the vaccine first. Shop workers have been real heroes. The government should come clean and tell us how many have died or caught Covid. The whole thing has been incompetently dealt with. And yes, shop workers are undervalued and people who are rude to them should be barred from that shop for life.

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1 06 2021
mountaincoward

Thanks John 🙂 I’m glad some folk appreciate us. I know our regular, local customers generally do.

I think some of the Government’s treatment of Covid has been fairly good, i.e. the lockdowns and I also liked the tier system (although it got ignored somewhat!) But I really have been absolutely furious with them about the vaccination program.

When I said at the end of my post I won’t vote for them in future, thinking about it, I’m not sure any of the parties would have been any better. Part of the blame HAS to lie with their medical advisors and I don’t think they’re party specific!

I’d love to see the figures for all types of key workers who’ve died or caught it but I don’t suppose we ever will… I know it’s been a high death rate for shop workers though as I read an article about it quite a few months ago. Teacher deaths have been high too…

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31 05 2021
Sue Ann (Suna) Kendall

It’s equally bad in the US. People are so selfish.

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1 06 2021
mountaincoward

Hi Sue Ann. Yes, I gathered it’s been just as bad in the US and Canada. I follow a Canadian blogger and he’s regularly posted on the same kinds of issues.

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