Mining giant Anglo American intends to introduce mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations across the company and may sack workers who refuse.
The firm, which employs 95 000 people worldwide, says it is consulting with its staff about the policy.
The Daily Telegraph, citing an internal Anglo American document, reported that workers who refuse to be vaccinated could be fired “as a last resort”.
This would happen if an alternative, remote working role could not be found.
A spokesperson for Anglo American told the BBC: “Anglo American is intending to introduce a policy that requires Covid-19 vaccination for access to all its sites and offices, with the continued objective of protecting our employees, their families, and communities as much as we can.”
It said that over the past 18 months, it had encouraged workers to be vaccinated and had set up vaccination facilities at some sites. This includes in southern Africa where Anglo American has a large presence and where the new Covid-19 variant, Omicrom, was first detected last week.
“Requiring vaccination for access is the next step, given that vaccination is the best defence available,” the company said.
However, it admitted that implementing a mandatory Covid-19 vaccination policy may vary in different countries.
“We expect there may be differences in exactly how and when the policy will be implemented across the group due to local contexts and legal requirements,” said a spokesperson.
Anglo American employs about 1 300 workers at the Woodsmith mine project in North Yorkshire, which it acquired when it bought Sirius Minerals last year.
It also has its headquarters in London.
In November, Health Secretary Sajid Javid ruled out mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations for everyone in the UK, saying it was something the government “won’t ever look at”. However, he said that it would be compulsory for frontline NHS staff in England to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
Northern Ireland is consulting on a similar move. Scotland and Wales have not made any proposals to make Covid-19 jabs compulsory for NHS workers or care home staff.
However, other countries such as Austria want to enforce vaccinations from February next year while Germany’s incoming Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, says he supports compulsory jabs.
This week European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said European Union countries should consider mandatory vaccination to combat Covid-19 and the Omicron variant.
She said: “How we can encourage and potentially think about mandatory vaccination within the European Union? This needs discussion. This needs a common approach, but it is a discussion that I think has to be led.”
The Daily Telegraph reports that Anglo American workers could be exempted from the vaccination policy on medical grounds.
The internal Anglo American document quoted by the newspaper also states that staff would be “given a reasonable amount of time to get vaccinated prior to any consequences being imposed”.—Bbc.com