Roadmap falls down on basic principles says ETUC

Return to work must be safe

The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) appreciates the effort of the European Commission to propose a Roadmap towards lifting Covid19 containment measures, but criticises it for failing on basic principles and neglecting to acknowledge the practicalities of a return to work, insufficiently mentioning either health and safety at work or the need to apply strict ‘precautionary’ measures.

The ETUC asks the Commission to start an urgent and proper consultation with trade unions and employers to define a proper implementation of the Communication.

ETUC General Secretary Luca Visentini said “We agree there needs to be a coordinated and planned easing of restrictions across the EU, guided by public and occupational health advice.

“We are at the same time concerned that the Commission seems not to have given consideration to practical issues like health and safety at work as part of the lifting of containment measures.

“The roadmap should specify the need for national and workplace plans, developed with the involvement of trade unions, to ensure a safe return to the workplace for those off work or working from home, and continued protection for those who have been working throughout the crisis.  The roadmap should also give some consideration to those who normally work from home or in other people’s homes.”

The ETUC is sending proposals to improve the roadmap in a letter to the Presidents of the European Commission and Council. In particular the ETUC demands that

  • There should be national and workplace plans for return to the workplace for those who have been off work or working from home, developed with the involvement of trade unions;
  • Health and safety at work and the ‘precautionary principle’ should be guiding principles for the gradual lifting of current containment measures for those who have been working throughout the crisis and for those who face a return to work;
  • Labour Inspectorates should enforce health and safety measures applicable in the period following the lifting of restrictions;
  • In addition to measures that need to be taken at ‘traditional’ workplaces, measures should also be put in place for platform and domestic workers;
  • COVID-19 should be added to the list of viruses in Directive 2000/54/EC on the protection of workers from biological agents at work;
  • Data protection and privacy provisions should be respected and ensure that workers can only on a voluntary basis be tracked to identify whether s/he has been in contact with a person carrying the virus;
  • Proper social dialogue and trade union involvement in all steps of the return to work.