Health and Safety
Jun. 03, 2020 When prime minister Sophie Wilmès visited the Saint-Pierre hospital in Brussels earlier this month she was met by rows of health workers with their backs turned. This reflected the growing anger among health workers about the failure of the government to deal with the pressing needs of the sector in terms of funding, staffing and personal protective equipment. Health trade unions are also angry about the two decrees (see CB News 9) on assistants carrying out nursing duties and requisitioning staff. Unions have issued official strike declarations in response to the failure to have a proper social dialogue on these key issues
May. 29, 2020 The SIPTU health union has reiterated its demand that the government publishes full details of where over 7,600 workers have tested positive for Covid-19. The union says that the data is needed to identify any Covid-19 hotspots and to understand if health workers were exposed due to the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) or poor enforcement of protocols. It will also allow the union to find out how these workers were treated by their employer. SIPTU is also concerned about health workers taken on by employment agencies who are not covered by Covid-19 paid leave or ‘death in service’ policies. The union wants health workers exposed to the disease to receive compensation for loss of salary and state support for medical costs including counselling.
May. 29, 2020 The FNV trade union argues that the failure of the government to issue clear guidance personal protective equipment (PPE) means that many employers are not providing all health and care workers with the necessary protection. An FNV survey found that 60% of staff in nursing homes and home care lack protection and even a third staff in hospitals don’t have enough PPE. Non-nursing staff in particular unprotected and practice varies significantly from employer to employer with some saying they won’t provide PPE until the government issues a directive. FNV is planning to call for a one-off bonus for care staff in the short term, but also better wages and terms of employment in the longer term. There are already signals that healthcare institutions are expecting financial shortages but the union argues that this should in no way be used to deprive healthcare staff of the financial rewards they deserve. FNV (NL)
May. 08, 2020 Health trade unions have issued a joint statement reiterating their serious concerns about the failures in provision of safety equipment and testing for health workers who have been struggling to maintain services despite the risks they have been facing. The unions also warn that the situation with protective equipment and tests needs to be resolved before any major moves to de-confinement otherwise there would be a major risk of a second wave of infection. The joint statement contains a reaffirmation of the key demands of the unions that they have been campaigning around over the last two years including, revaluation of pay and jobs; increased funding; more training and increased recruitment; a stop on closure of facilities and guarantee of access to services for all.
May. 06, 2020
The European Commission adopted a European union circular economy action plan in March 2020. EPSU organised a discussion with Virginijus Sinkevičius, the Commissioner responsible.
May. 05, 2020 The vida and GPA-djp private services unions have called on the government to take a national approach to regulations on childcare as institutions try to get to grips with rules on safety that vary across the country. The unions are concerned that proper measures are in place to protect workers and children but they have had reports of regional authorities applying different rules on face masks as well as recommending different staff:children ratios. In the meantime, the two unions are also pushing for a new collective agreement covering around 15000 health and care staff at the non-profit provide Caritas. There has been no result after five rounds of negotiations where the unions are hoping to secure a real pay increase and shorter working time in line with the main agreement covering private health and social care.
May. 05, 2020 The three main trade union confederations - CGIL, CSIL and UIL - have criticised the government for failing to deliver on the additional resources and support needed for health workers as the country prepares to ease lockdown measures. The unions argue that key provisions in the "Care Italy" act have not been implemented leaving health workers still working long shifts, trying to cope with inadequate hospital capacity and all of this without adequate equipment or proper safety protocols - problems that have persisted for three months. The confederations also raise concerns about the pay and allowances of health workers to cover the mounting overtime and risks associated with dealing with such an infectious disease.
May. 05, 2020 Kommunal, the municipal workers' union, has referred the Work Environment Authority to the parliamentary ombudsman over failures in the way it has dealt with COVID-19. The union considers that the Authority which is responsible for reducing workplace risks and improving the work environment, has failed to properly address issues concerning recommendations on the level provision of personal protective equipment, consulting only with the SKR municipal employers' organisation and not listening to the views of Kommunal or other trade unions. Kommunal also believes that the Authority breached its mandate by deleting an expert opinion on the level of provision of PPE, so violating freedom of information regulations.
May. 04, 2020 The FNV trade union has again criticised the failure to provide adequate personal protective equipment and COVID-19 testing for health staff. The unions says that at least nine health workers have died as a result of the virus and that measures still need to be taken to ensure that safety is prioritised. The FNV also argues that this is a longer term problem and the involvement of employees in safety protocols is essential. Meanwhile the union has confirmed that the collective agreement covering social workers has been declared generally binding and so covers all workers in the sector. The two-year deal runs to July 2021 and includes pay increases of 3.25% for both 2019 and 2020 along with the same increases for holiday allowances and end-of-year bonuses.
May. 04, 2020 The Sanidad-CCOO and FeSP-UGT public service federations have called for a range of actions in the elder care sector in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Both federations were already campaigning to secure better pay and conditions for the workforce, 90% of which are women. They both argue that the impact of the pandemic has further exposed the fundamental problems of low pay, inadequate staffing, stress, excessive workloads. These have been compounded by the lack of personal protective equipment and inadequate testing which have exposed both workers and service users to the virus. Key union demands include an audit of care homes, higher pay and increased staffing, more funding from central government and a greater role for the public sector.
Apr. 30, 2020
On Wednesday, 29 April, Jan-Willem Goudriaan was invited to represent EPSU in a high level exchange with European Commissioners Nicolas Schmit, Stella Kyriakides, Dubravka Šuica and Helena Dalli.