Across five hospitals in Belgium, cleaning staff are taking action on Tuesday to denounce the decision that they will not receive the €985 coronavirus bonus granted to hospital staff.
Because most cleaning staff are outsourced and employed by external companies, they were not entitled to the bonus that will be given to permanent staff as compensation for their work during the crisis.
Trade unions ACV and ABVV have urged Federal Minister of Public Health Frank Vandenbroucke to grant the “forgotten” bonuses and warned that this is phase one of the planned actions, adding that if “the cleaners are still not listened to, other actions will follow.”
At first, the unions believed that this specific group has simply been forgotten about, however, “several letters have since been sent to MPs and ministers by the unions, we have asked a parliamentary question, contacted the cabinets and even held several actions in the field,” the unions argued, adding that this was all without a successful result.
In Ghent, around 40 cleaners stood in the cellars of the University Hospital (UZ Gent) on Tuesday, with masks over their faces, to symbolise their sense of “invisibility” and the discrimination against them compared to the permanent staff.
The first actions to draw attention to the situation of outsourced cleaning staff started in April when banners were hung in various medical institutions bearing the slogan “Are we invisible?”.
The federal government first announced it would be granting hospital staff an “incentive bonus”, which according to the trade unions, some 1,000 cleaners did not receive because they were outsourced.
The Brussels Times