EPSU Standing Committee on Health and Social Services discussed how to better support health workers during the pandemic and making the COVID- 19 vaccine a public good

EPSU SC HSS 11 March 2021

(12 March 2021)  On the 11 March 2021 members of the EPSU Standing Committee on Health and Social Services met for the first time this year to discuss the situation in the sector at the national and the EU level.

The members adopted a solidarity message to health workers in Myanmar, who are at the forefront for fighting against the military take over and bringing back democracy to their country. The letter expresses, among other points:

We express our utmost support for your protests and strike actions. Your demonstrations have shown the international community the importance of the health and social service professionals, not only in protecting the health of citizens but also in standing at the forefront of protecting democracy and the fundamental rights in Myanmar and the globe.

We are deeply moved that the health workers were the first ones to fight against the coup, when on the day after the state of emergency was declared, your colleagues from 70 hospitals put down their tools to start the protest. They gave the example of bravery to other workers who followed suit.

The committee also endorsed a solidarity message to Romanian workers, who for weeks have protested against government cuts in the health care sector and the government’s avoidance of conducting a genuine dialogue with the workers.  The message underlines that:

Genuine dialogue with the unions is crucial to provide quality health care for the Romanian population and to recognise workers’ heroism in fighting COVID-19.  More than ever the European governments need to improve wages of health and social services professionals to allow them to continue their work, as well as to make Europe and Romania more resilient towards future health emergencies. 

Members also expressed their solidarity and support for the UK colleagues who on that day were holding an action against the government proposal for the disgraceful pay increase of 1 percent.     And they expressed their solidarity with workers and people in Czechia who are dealing with the unprecedented increases of COVID-19 cases.

The committee decided that the motto of the Global Health Day this year should be NO PROFIT from the Pandemic, and endorsed the EPSU work on waiver from the intellectual property rights in relation to the COVID -19 vaccine to allow countries produce more vaccines.

https://www.epsu.org/article/trade-rules-must-not-impede-access-covid-19-vaccines-and-medical-supplies

The members were updated on the fourth revision of the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive (CMD) which is currently debated in the EU Parliament.  The importance of making sure that our demands for including hazardous medicinal products and reprotoxins will be included was highlighted, both in the amendments approved by MEPs and in the outcome of the trialogue, which will begin after the vote on the revision on the 25 March.  EPSU is the initiator and leading organisation of the Stop Cancer at Work Campaign, a campaign which aims to  eradicate occupational exposure to deadly substances at work and put an end to work-related deaths caused by cancer and other health problems, such as miscarriages.

Finally, the committee was presented with the worrying information about the lack of transparency of governments in presenting data on COVID-19 related deaths and on the vaccination of the health and care workers. The presentations of both Amnesty International on the recent report on COVID -19 related deaths, to which EPSU contributed, and the Commission’s representative (DG Sante), indicate that few countries, including the EU Member States, provided full and transparent data on this important topic.

Romania