Labour shortages: Social Partners jointly respond to the European Commission Consultation on Labour and Skills Shortages in the EU: An Action Plan

EPSU action on Global Day of Action for Care - 29 October 2021, Brussels

(7 March) In a coordinated action, EPSU joined with Social Partners in Health and Social Services to responded to the European Commission consultation on Labour and Skills Shortages in the EU Action Plan.

Together with HOSPEEM representing health and hospitals sector, and the Social Employers representing the care sector (including Long Term Care and Early Childhood Education and Care), EPSU presented a unified response to the proposed Action Plan. Our joint response is of utter importance given that those two sectors are the ones that face the highest labour shortages in the EU and across the globe.

One reason for the labour shortages is that they are still perceived by funders as a cost that needs to be reduced as part of the budgetary austerity policies legitimised by the European Stability Pact  (EPSU and Social Employers joint position in February 2024 "Concerns about economic governance review".)

Another is Occupational Health and Safety.  In the health sector focus is on Psychosocial Risks and Stress at Work as well as prevention from Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD), the two being the most common causes of sickness/absenteeism and possible early withdrawal from the sector, leading to staffing shortages.

Numerous documents point to the fact that the sector is in an overall labour crisis – issues with retention due to poor working conditions, issues with recruitment, workforce ageing and burn out due to over-demand from an ageing population.

 Support for and protection of sectoral social dialogue and collective  bargaining on the national and European level is key. Given our social dialogue experiences and good practices on issues affecting the sector, we continue to fight against the Commission cuts to the financial support for social partners members participating in these important meetings.

Without social partners direct participation, it is not possible to conduct successful work in the area of labour shortages.

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