Study highlights union role in response to pandemic

Europe Sweden

A new study of the impact of the pandemic in social care in eight countries reveals the problems faced by social care workers and the extent to which trade union action has helped to address issues around personal protective equipment (PPE), sick pay, working time and understaffing. There has been a shortage of PPE in all countries, but it was only in Sweden that a trade union had to take legal action for its members' right to use personal protective equipment. Increased overtime was a challenge in all countries but with split shifts being a particular problem in Sweden. The pandemic exposed understaffing and a lack of staff with the right skills in all countries and highlighted the continuing problem of low pay and poor and precarious working conditions for the overwhelmingly female workforce.

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