Global Health Summit Consultation –  Health and Social Care workers demand

No profit from the pandemic EPSU logo

(21 April 2021) The European Commission and the Italian Presidency of the G20 organise a Global Health Summit 21 May. They want to draw the lessons of the pandemic and ensure the world is better prepared next time. The aim is that the summit adopts a set of principles (a Rome declaration) that serves the world as a guide for medium and long term structural change, focusing on international cooperation and joint action to prevent a future crisis. The C20, many global civil society groups focusing on health and global cooperation as well as PSI and EPSU representing workers and the unions in health and social care were invited to present their views to the European Commission and the Italian Presidency.

EPSU and PSI stressed the role health and care professionals, support staff and public service workers have played, being on the front line, often not protected and understaffed after years of austerity policies. The world needs a radical rethink of priorities as the COVID 19 pandemic has shown the failure of a global and of national systems where corporations and financial institutions influence decisions that put narrow interests before those of governments and the public interest. It requires addressing the links between health, social, economic and environmental developments, reducing health inequalities between countries and in countries in which the working class experiences high levels of health risks. It needs a new financial architecture with tax justice at its heart, and moving away from all mixed financing in which profit-seeking interests prevail (like: blended instrument, PPPs, creative and innovative instruments…..) and that a ensure countries have the fiscal (budgetary ) space to invest in and fund public health and social care systems for all. PSI’s health leader Baba Aye noted that “based on a OECD conservative estimate, every year US$ 427 billion in tax are lost to tax havens, causing devastating social impact. Globally, it is equivalent to over 34 million annual nurses’ salaries each year, double of what is needed to fill the global staff shortage according to the UN. “

EPSU’s General Secretary stated that we want to see the role of workers recognised in the principles. “Preparedness is an occupational health and safety issue, from Personal Protective Equipment, addressing socio-psychological stress to having needs-based staffing levels and from the workplace up to the sectoral, national and European level. Social dialogue, collective bargaining and respect for trade union rights are part of the basics to ensure preparedness, resilience and recovery. Trade unions need to be consulted” EPSU, PSI and several other participants including the representative of the Women’s coordination in the G20 stressed that governments need to address the shortages in staffing and implement their commitments.

The union and many other representatives called on the EU to support the waiver of IP-rights for the vaccines so production can be scaled up. It was noted that vaccination rates in Africa are around 1.5% of the population while in the rich countries and EU this is now going over 25% or much more. The union group called Labour 20 including ITUC and ETUC as well as the Civil Society 20  have done a joint call for the waiverA European ECI supported by EPSU makes a similar call and can be signed here

The event took place 20 April 2021 online.