EPSU delegation of health and social care workers met with Nicolas Schmit, European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, 9 December 2022
(9 December 2022) Today a delegation of health and social care workers coordinated by the European Public Sector Union (EPSU) met with Nicolas Schmit, European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights. They discussed staff shortages in health and care, the need for more public investment and the role that the European Commission plays in these areas. The EPSU delegation led by General Secretary Jan Willem Goudriaan expressed the anger that led hundreds of European health and care workers to the streets of a cold Brussels morning on the occasion of the Council of Ministers of Health.
The demands were the following:
- Recognise the urgency of the crisis in health and social care.
- Strengthen collective bargaining and sectoral collective agreements that uphold adequate, needs-based staffing levels, fair wages, good working conditions and trade union rights. The Commission should establish a sectoral social dialogue committee in social services, as requested by EPSU and the Social Employers.
- The health and care sectors need sufficient public funding and investment to allow health and social care workers to deliver high quality care. Therefore health and social care is to be excluded from austerity measures. Health and care are public goods and services and the Commission should prevent their commercialisation. If profits are made they should be fully reinvested to improve working conditions and care delivery. Governments should reverse commercialisation to safeguard the sector’s resilience and focus on the rights of care recipients.
- Companies and organisations that do not have collective agreements should not receive public funds and contract.
The delegation demanded that the European Care Strategy and the Recommendation on Long-Term care are fully implemented. The European institutions and Member States must work with EPSU and the unions. We need to develop quality mechanisms to access public funds for care services. The protesters stressed the need for occupational health and safety, including psychosocial risks and post-COVID conditions. A dedicated Directive on Psychosocial Risks to protect workers from stress and burnout caused by work will assist. The unions support the public service of care services. Member States should recognise the crucial role social services play in our societies and reduce inequalities by ensuring universal access to health services and by delivering the Right to Long-Term Care. The Commissioner is responsible for the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights and plays a central role to make this happen.
The delegation congratulated the Commission for recognising COVID-19 as an occupational disease, as recommended by the Advisory Committee on Safety and Health at Work, a major EPSU achievement.
The delegation was composed of: Jan Willem Goudriaan (EPSU General Secretary), Françoise Geng (France, EPSU Vice-President, CGT Santé), Giancarlo Go (Italy, FPCGIL), Razvan Gae (Romania, SANITAS), Ivana Brenkova (Czech Republic, CMKOS), Yvonne Gräsman (Sweden, Kommunal), Thomas Kattnig (Austria, Younion), Yolanda Gil Alonso (Spain, Sanidad), Humberto Jose Muñoz Beltrán (Spain, Sanidad), Ana Francés (Spain, UGT Sanidad), Sabrina Didschuns (Germany, ver.di), Margarida Saraiva da Silva (Portugal, Setca), Marie-Agnes Gilot (Belgium, ACV), Adam Rogalewski (EPSU) and Can Kaya (EPSU).