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. 29, 2020 in a meeting with the Ministry of Health on 13 May, the FSS-CCOO and FeSP-UGT health sector federations have called for action on staffing and pay and conditions across the sector. In particular, the FSS-CCOO demanded that the Ministry of Health schedule negotiations covering the National Health Service (SNS). The union is unhappy that it was only on 13 May that negotiations have been convened during the entire period of the crisis. The federations want to see an extension of contracts until the end of the year for all those employed on temporary contracts to help deal with the crisis. This will help deal with the restart of normal health activity and increased waiting lists. The unions want to see investment in primary care with more staff to monitor COVID-19 patients and ensure no further outbreaks in residential care; improve the supply of personal protective equipment with increased national production; increased funding for health and greater investment in technological innovation and declaration of COVID-19 as an occupational disease. The FeSP-UGT has also suggested measures such as partial retirement to support the many older workers in the health service and reiterated the call for full restoration of bonuses cut after the last crisis to be fully restored. FSS-CCOO (ES) FeSP-UGT (ES)
May. 29, 2020 The three main unions in private health and residential care - Fp Cgil, Cisl Fp and Uil Fpl – are planning a general strike 18 June over the renewal of collective agreements. Minimum services will be provided as selected workers strike for the entire day or shift. The unions have been continually frustrated by the Aris and Aiop employer organisations who have failed to finalise negotiations and renew the private health agreement that expired 14 years ago. In residential health care is has been eight years since the last agreement. Negotiations have been going on for over two and a half years and regional authorities are committed to funding the renewal of the agreement but the employers have put further conditions on signing off the deal. The unions stress that employees in private health have been working as hard and facing the same COVID-19 risks as workers in public health care but without the same pay and conditions.
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. 08, 2020 Trade unions have strongly criticised the health minister for publishing two Royal decrees affecting health workers. The first would allow non-nursing staff to carry out some nursing duties. Unions say there are no details on how this would work in practice. The second provides powers to requisition health staff to work. The unions argue that this comes at a time when the infection rate is beginning to fall but more importantly was not even needed at the height of the crisis when health workers were doing all they could do fight the pandemic. The unions say that the decrees have been imposed without proper consultation and in the fact of strong opposition and that they risk to generate a wave of discontent and protest among health workers.
May. 08, 2020 Unions representing public service workers have made clear that they do not accept the government’s proposal to suspend this year’s pay increases, along with Christmas and other bonuses. Two pay increases are due to be paid this year, both of 2% in June and October. EPSU issued a statement supporting the unions’ position and criticising the government for pushing for a pay freeze for workers on the frontline of the fight against the pandemic.
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. 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 On 28 and 29 April, the ver.di union, representing health and care workers, organised a photo action, projecting photos of care workers on key buildings including the ministry of health and parliament. The union was drawing attention to the work being done by hundreds of thousands of workers across health and social care despite the risks and often without adequate personal protective equipment. According to the union at least 42 health and care staff have died as a result of COVID-19. While welcoming the EUR 1500 bonus paid to staff in elder care, the union points out that not only have many health and other social care workers not received any bonus, but more importantly action needs to be taken in the longer term to improve pay and conditions across the sector.
Apr. 24, 2020 Trade unions representing health workers - INMO, SIPTU and Forsa - have been highly critical of the government's failure to come up with an effective plan to provide childcare for nurses, midwives and other care workers. Unions report that many health workers are staying away from work or using annual leave or sick leave as they have no childcare provision. Those who can find childcare are often paying high costs and proposals and unions are saying that proposals that offer leave for partners of health workers fail to recognise the limitation of the measure. Unions are particularly disappointed that so little has been done since the issue was raised weeks ago when the government closed schools and childcare facilities.
Apr. 24, 2020
The European Council has adopted a number of measures to assist businesses and workers as our economies are hit hard by the COVID19 pandemic. The package makes available €540 billion for euro zone member states.