(4 May 2021) On Tuesday, 4th May, EPSU together with Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung (FES), the Foundation for European Progressive Studies, Kommunal and Arena Idé organized a conference to raise awareness of the extraordinary challenges care workers had to face during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was attended by 100 participants on Zoom and many more on our various Facebook streams.
During the event we launched a report by FES, Arena Idé and Kommunal on the experience of workers in long-term care during COVID-19. The report highlights the heroic efforts of care workers as well as the importance of trade unions during the pandemic. It underscores existing deficiencies in long-term care and addresses the need for a change in our models of care.
Mette Nord, president of EPSU, opened the event and highlighted the importance of well-funded quality public care services as well as collective bargaining for better working conditions and good staffing levels.
In the following panel, we looked back at the pandemic from the perspective of care workers and trade unionists. To this end, we heard from care workers from Poland, Jerzy Korczak, Wales, Sian Stockham and Portugal, Marina Romana. Their moving testimony confirmed that care workers were too often neglected by authorities during the pandemic and left to fend for themselves. Tobias Baudin, president of the Swedish union Kommunal explained what his union did to protect workers in often dangerous circumstances.
The second panel focused on the future – how can we ensure that the care sector receives the recognition it deserves? Kinga Milankovics and Elizabeth Laursen, care workers from Hungary and Sweden, described which changes they would need to see on the ground to be able to enjoy the working conditions care workers deserve. Dana Bachmann from the European Commission, MEP Heléne Fritzon and Barbara Helfferich, expert on care, then discussed which policies on European level were needed to bring about concrete improvements to the sector.
If you did not manage to attend, you can watch the recording here (by using the passcode R2BX+#=j.)
See here the Report on Care Workers on the Coronavirus Frontline.