(5 October 2022) On Thursday, 29 September a group of health and care workers shared their stories at an extraordinary European Parliament event.
The European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU) and the Left in the European Parliament brought together essential workers from across Europe to share their experiences from the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. The debate was hosted by MEPs from the European Parliament’s Special Committee on the COVID-19 pandemic, the committee tasked with drawing lessons from the pandemic and making recommendations for change.
Workers from across the health and care system – EMTs, carers, midwives, cleaners, drivers… - and from across Europe took to the floor to emphasise staff shortages, lack of resources, low wages and cost cutting as key failures that continue to impact essential services. They shared often devastating personal stories as example of the real consequences of these failures and why policymakers must move beyond applause towards real change.
MEP Marisa Matias (The Left, Portugal) chaired the first panel which discussed the impact of COVID-19 on public health systems and workers. Researcher Dian Maria Blandina (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece) underlined the role that the commercialisation of health and care services played in destabilising Europe’s public health system. COVI Committee Chair MEP Kathleen Van Brempt (S&Ds, Belgium) and MEP Tilly Metz (Greens, Luxembourg) shared their support for frontline workers and vowed to deliver change through the committee. MEP Marc Botenga (The Left, Belgium) chaired the second panel on the impact of COVID-19 on long-term care and care workers, where he promised to support EPSU by delivering an effective European Care Strategy. MEP Katerina Konecna closed the debate by thanking the workers present and promising to deliver change from the lessons learned.
Speakers came from BBTK-SETCa (Belgium), OSZSP (Czech Republic), FSS-CCOO (Spain), Ver.di (Germany) and CNE-CSC (Belgium).