TSSA supports Covid-19 'TRIPS' waiver

The word "coronavirus" with a picture of an animated man on the side.

TSSA is calling on the British government to join the growing number of countries that support the Indian and South African governments proposal for TRIPS waivers at the WTO to fight Covid-19.

Despite the high levels of vaccination in the UK, the recent surge of the 'Indian' variant, show that we are not safe until everyone is safe. For our members in public transport and tourism, the recovery of these industries will be impossible without a global recovery.

With devastating waves of the disease tearing their way through the heart of countries around the globe, governments are being urged to support emergency waivers on intellectual property rights under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) specifically related to "prevention, containment and treatment" of the Covid-19 virus.

The role that a small number of countries are playing, including the United Kingdom, in exacerbating vaccine and treatment inequality by blocking the TRIPS waiver and universal access to Covid-19 vaccines, treatments and equipment, has no place in a civilised world. The only way to eliminate Covid-19 is to do it globally and simultaneously. All barriers to the production, distribution and access to vaccines, treatments and diagnostics must be removed.

Transport workers everywhere have been on the frontline. 

In India alone, more than 100 000 of our brothers and sisters who work on the Indian Railways have been infected and 2 000 railway bread winners have lost their lives. We stand with the millions of transport workers around the world who do not have access to vaccines and yet continue risking their lives by keeping cities and towns moving. Universal access to medicine, vaccines and equipment is an industrial priority but also a political and moral question.

In the UK, the spread of the disease last year devastated the industries our members work in. Now, despite one in two adults having had at least one dose of the vaccine, we see the risks posed by new variants.

The high levels of travel restrictions, both for the British public travelling abroad and tourists visiting the UK means that our members in tourism see no respite in the devastating impact this pandemic has had on their jobs.

The threat of new strains and anxieties around returning to public life, mean that our members in public transport still see their jobs under pressure, even as they provide front line services in very fragile circumstances.

TSSA urges the Westminster government to support the waiver at the TRIPS Council due to take place on 8th of June. If the government continues to block it, then it must bear the responsibility for the ensuing deaths, including those of transport workers.

Our message to the governments is simple: human life is more important than corporate profiteering. Only universal access to Covid-19 vaccines, treatments and equipment will prevent avoidable deaths.

More than 170 former heads of state and government and Nobel laureates, including former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Gordon Brown, have called in an open letter for governments to support a waiver of intellectual property rules for COVID-19 vaccines and pursue a people’s vaccine to end the pandemic.

We demand that Prime Minister Boris Johnston shows this leadership and throws the full weight of the government behind the call for a TRIPS waiver.