Covid-19 should be recognised as work-related illness, trade union says

Covid-19 should be recognised as work-related illness, trade union says
A survey of employees who have worked through the coronavirus lockdown showed that 10% felt they were insufficiently protected at work. © Belga

The FGTB/ABVV trade union wants to make the disease caused by the new coronavirus (Covid-19) recognisable as a work-related illness.

The trade union's push to get the disease at the heart of the current pandemic recognised as an occupational illness comes as companies ready preparations to return to work after lockdown regulations are lifted.

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The union said that the guidebooks rolled out by a number of companies in view of the reopening of all business from 11 May were insufficient to ensure worker protection.

"We fear that some employers may not take them too seriously," union representative Gina Heirman told De Morgen.

The union would seek to ensure that companies are made responsible for the medical fees "all workers who contracted the virus during essential or vital activities."

"Having the recognition [of Covid-19 as occupational] would mean that it would not be workers' social security, but their employer, who would bear the costs if an employee falls ill," the union said.

As the government moves forward with the gradual loosening of regulations, several occupations are set to return to work in some degree from mid-May, including teachers, retail staff, bank tellers, and industry employees.

In early April, an essential staff member working in a supermarket died after testing positive for the virus, with his family currently seeking compensation from his employer who they deemed failed to provide appropriate protection to staff.

According to a survey carried out by the FGTB/ABVV, 10% of respondents who have continued to work through the coronavirus lockown said they felt they were insufficiently protected at work.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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