Member of the services union ver.di working in several hospitals across the country took strike action on 19 September as part of the union's campaign on safe staffing levels and reducing workloads. EPSU general secretary Jan Willem Goudriaan sent a message of support, underlining the importance of protecting the well-being of both health workers and patients by taking urgent action to reduce staff shortages in the sector estimated at over 160000, including over 70000 frontline care workers.
Safe and effective staffing levels
Quality public services depend on having safe and effective staffing levels. This is crucial in health and social services but is also important in a range other public services. It is also about ensuring the safety and wellbeing of staff who are otherwise overworked and under pressure to cover for staff shortages. Recruitment and retention and training and continuous professional development are key elements in working to achieve and maintain safe and effective staffing levels.
The FOA public services union is calling on the government and municipalities to take urgent action to tackle staffing shortages in eldercare. A recent survey found that three out of four local authorities didn't have enough eldercare staff and the situation is set to deteriorate as many workers retire. The sector needs around 13000 new recruits every year but the level is currently half that. The union says that employers use a lot of part-time work to save money and while many employees in the sector actually want to work full time. There is also a question of higher pay for young workers.
The three main unions representing health workers - FP-CGIL, CISL-FP and UIL-FPL - have issued a joint call demanding urgent action to tackle doctor shortages across the health service. The three federations are particularly concerned about precarious employment, the need for more specialists and for a recruitment plan for doctors to be put in place as soon as possible. They made their case at a meeting with the Ministry of Health on 30 August where they highlighted the impact of austerity and recruitment freezes which have impacted emergency services above all. The unions have warned for many
The FNV trade union for prison staff has called for an urgent meeting with prison service management to discuss the implications of a new report on staffing, safety and treatment of inmates. The union believes that the report, "Out of Balance", by the Justice and Security Inspectorate provides further evidence of its concerns over excessive workloads and inadequately trained staff. The union now wants the prison service to discuss permanent measures to tackle these problems building on the temporary arrangements that were agreed last year by the justice department and central works council.
The CCOO-Sanidad health service union has repeated its call on the government to change the protocol on discharging health workers from treatment for COVID-19 and returning to work. The union argues that the procedure should be no different to that applying to other workers and that it is essential to ensure that health workers have completely recovered from infection. It warns that pressure to get health staff back to work has contributed to the 19400 health worker infections and 13 deaths. The federation has called for medical students in the final year of their studies to be called up to
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
Municipal services union Kommunal reveals that 16% of workers in eldercare still don't have access to personal protective equipment (PPE). Although this figure has fallen from 37%, the union says that is still unacceptable and is also concerned that around a fifth of workers say that their workplaces are not following proper hygiene practices. Eldercare workers are not just calling for more PPE but also increased staffing to help deal with the impact of the pandemic which the union argues is far from over.
Kommunal, the municipal workers' union, has negotiated an agreement with the SKR local and regional government employers' organisation to provide for more staff and training in eldercare. The government has provided an additional SEK 2.2 billion (EUR 210 million) in 2020 and 2021 to cover the extra staffing. Kommunal wants to ensure that workers are taken on on full-time contracts and training takes place during paid working time and is line with the existing training provision for nursing assistants and nurses.
Public and private sector health unions (younion, GÖD, vida and GPA-djp) have joined with the chamber of labour and chamber of doctors in a campaign - "health offensive". The aim is to achieve major change across the health and long-term care sectors and tackle some of the long-standing issues of understaffing and overwork that have been exposed by the impact of COVID-19. The unions have managed to establish a structured dialogue with the health ministry to address seven key issues - staffing, working conditions, training, career development, investment and ensuring service provision.
Vision and Kommunal, the trade unions representing workers and managers in eldercare, have issued a joint call for action on working conditions and work organisation to address the long-standing problems in the sector that have been highlighted by the COVID-19 crisis. The unions underline the importance of continuity of care that they say is best delivered through a stable base of long-term and full-time employment. They have set a target of increasing the proportion of permanent employees to 90 percent. They also want to see a benchmark of 25 employees per manager in the elderly care to help
The FOA trade union has called for urgent action to address training and recruitment in eldercare. It quotes a new report revealing a sharp decline in the numbers of people being trained to work in the sector. It was already forecast that there would be a staffing shortage of around 40000 by 2028 but the figures on training - a decline of 36% in the number of young people on training courses - suggest an even greater shortage. The government has agreed to a request by FOA to convene a summit of politicians, employers and unions to debate how to tackle the problem.
Health and social care unions have reacted differently to the government's €7.5 billion package on pay and jobs. The CFDT has welcomed the proposals that it says will mean a €90 net increase a month for most health workers from September with a further €93 increase from March 2021. On top of this a working group will be set up to look at revaluating pay for certain occupations which will be implemented in January 2022. The lowest paid workers in the sector, currently on the minimum wage should see their pay increase by 15%. Around 8000 jobs will be created and 7300 vacancies filled. The FO
The national nurses' association is threatening strike action if the government doesn't agree to talks to address serious understaffing and low pay. The union says that there was already a shortfall of 1500 nurses before the COVID-19 pandemic and the situation has seriously deteriorated as the country has been hit by a second wave. Infection of health staff is increasing with around 1000 nurses now in quarantine while those at work are facing increasing workloads, long working houjs and greater stress. The government has promised some additional funding but the union wants to see urgent action