Seven trade union organisations have called on the government to urgently address the critical lack of personal protective equipment in health and social care. The unions also raise serious concerns about the threats of disciplinary action against workers who refuse to work in dangerous situations or who want to talk publicly about the lack of equipment. They want the government to work with the unions to tackle the crisis and to do this it needs to guarantee transparency on procurement, distribution, timescales and exactly how and when workers can expect to get the protection they need and deserve. Unions have also raised concerns that PPE supply to care homes is still inadequate following a government announcement that 8 million items had been distributed to the sector. Unions have also approached the government to launch a coordinated effort to use more manufacturing capacity to produce PPE.
Unions call on government to act on safety equipment
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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.
Jun. 03, 2020 The FOA trade union reports success in getting the government to set up a new committee to deal with personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing for COVID-19 infections. The new body will not only ensure that enough PPE and testing are available in response to any resurgence in the pandemic but also in preparation for any future crises. The union also underlined the need to take measures to ensure that health and social care are in general strengthened and not subject to the kinds of efficiency measures that have been common in recent years. FOA underlines the need for support for the elder care sector in particular which has been neglected by employers and the government to the detriment of workers and the elderly.
Apr. 08, 2020 The impact of the crisis on health staff has been highlighted by public services trade unions as the evidence from the CFDT shows. The union is pushing for official recognition of COVID-19 as an occupational disease and for a fund to be set up to deal with the long-term effects. Trade unions are pushing hard for more personal protective equipment and the CGT has given a formal notice of potential strike action across the public services to allow its members to take action where they feel that there is a real threat to workers and citizens. Action has already been taken in the care sector, for example, by workers at a care home in Le Havre who have been overwhelmed by the catastrophic situation there. Meanwhile, the FO trade union has launched a general legal action challenging the failure to take adequate action to address the emergency and calling on those responsible to face up to the deaths and infections that have resulted. For UNSA, its calls for increased protection, particularly for health workers, have been echoed by the independent and influential Académie Nationale de Médecine.