Pimlico Plumbers’ Charlie Mullins lambasted by Zahawi over ‘discriminatory’ vaccine rule

Nadhim Zahawi: Vaccine rollout should be done ‘by persuasion’

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said it would be “discriminatory” to refuse to take on new employees who will not be vaccinated. Asked about Pimlico Plumbers’ efforts to pressure staff to be jabbed, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think that is discriminatory.

“We’re not that sort of country and I think it’s important we do it by persuasion.”

Asked whether care home staff should be able to work if they refuse a vaccination, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think, as the Prime Minister has said, we’re not the sort of country that forces people to take vaccines, we want to do it by persuasion.”

Mr Mullins is looking at changing his employment contracts to include a requirement for workers to have a COVID-19 vaccine, he said on Thursday, though he added that no one would get fired for refusing to have the shot.

The firm was also exploring how it might modify existing staff contracts, he said, although he insisted no one would be forced to receive a vaccine or be fired over the issue.

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“We wouldn’t dream of forcing anybody but I’m pretty much certain that 99 percent of our staff would jump at the opportunity,” Mullins told Reuters in a telephone interview.

“Who in their right mind would turn down one needle or one jab that could save your life?” he added.

Asked whether there was a contradiction between saying contracts could be modified to require vaccines while also saying no one would be forced out, Mullins presented the issue as one of persuasion rather than coercion.

“It’s not a contradiction because I think you’ll find if you encourage people and advise them … I’m happy to pay for anyone that works for us to have the vaccine,” he said, adding that this could take place during working hours.

Coronavirus vaccine ‘needs to be taken’ says Charlie Mullins

As things stand, people in Britain can only receive the vaccine from the state-run National Health Service, which is gradually rolling them out free of charge, following an order of priority with elderly and vulnerable people top of the list.

Mr Mullins said he believed that within a few months it should be possible to pay to obtain vaccines privately, and he also thought it would become the norm for proof of vaccination to be required for things such as air travel or going to the theatre.

In that context, he said, he did not believe many people would find a “no jab, no job” policy controversial.

“Nobody moans now you’ve got to get on a plane with a negative COVID test,” he said, referring to a new requirement for passengers arriving in Britain to provide proof of a negative test taken less than 72 hours before travel. Many other countries have had such requirements for months.

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As he appeared on ITV Good Morning Britain to express his views on the vaccination, Mr Mullins sparked the outrage of some viewers.

One wrote on Twitter: “What an ignorant man what about customers who can’t have it that’s discrimination, it’s ok for you a millionaire you can do and go where you please poor people cannot.”

Someone else said: “People should have a choice if they WANT to have the vaccine or NOT, how do people know what’s really in the vaccine.”

A fourth penned: “Haven’t you got a bog to unblock?”

Another viewer raged: “He’ll turn them away? From Marbella?”

Another said: “Oh! Here he is again! That plumber getting airtime from his lush Marbella pad!! *Face with rolling eyes*”

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