The Eurofound research agency has published a new study that argues that social dialogue and collective bargaining were essential in finding solutions to the challenges in the hospital sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. It notes that this was also true in countries where these structures are not so strong – including Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czechia, Estonia and Malta – and not just those where this a long-standing tradition of cooperation between trade unions and employers. The study found that negotiations were crucial for, among other issues, agreeing the changes to work organisation required to tackle the health crisis and the successful allocation of additional funding and resources. However, the report also found that in countries most affected by austerity measures in the health sector following the 2007–2008 financial crisis – namely Greece, Portugal and Spain – governments implemented legislation without the involvement of the social partners, who played a limited role in managing the overall response. The study adds to the evidence that the pandemic exacerbated existing staff shortages with trade unions and employers increasingly concerned about the impact that high levels of stress and workload may have on staff retention.
Study underlines role of collective bargaining in hospitals during pandemic
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