Compulsory vaccination of nursing staff: strikes still on, warns union

Compulsory vaccination of nursing staff: strikes still on, warns union
© Belga

The Public Services wing of the Confederation of Christian Trade Unions, CSC, warned on Saturday that an agreement reached on Friday evening in Belgium’s restricted Council of Ministers to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for health workers would be met with stricter action.

The federation described the agreement as “indecent,” accused the Government of not listening to the workers, and said it was “more determined than ever” and would “remain mobilised for as long as common sense does not return.”

Friday’s agreement, reached after 13 hours of discussions, included a decision, under certain conditions, not to lay off unvaccinated employees from 1 April but to maintain the suspension of work contracts without pay.

The strike notice filed on Thursday by CSC Public Services, which takes effect on Monday 22 November for one week, is thus maintained “more than ever,” the federation’s national secretary, Véronique Sabel, said, pointing out that the new agreement did not represent any progress.

“Why link being unvaccinated to a sanction?” she asked rhetorically. “Is there no other way to sensitise this profession, which has been on the frontline for two years, and is exhausted, at a time when there is a shortage of staff?” she added, pointing to a spate of resignations in the health-care sector, along with cases of burnout and sick leave.

“The suspension of unvaccinated workers will, in fact, lead to a shortage of staff in the field,” Sabel stressed.

“If unvaccinated staff members are suspended, who will go to patients’ bedside? Senior professionals or the ministers themselves?” she wondered, noting that services would be closed and that “some are already” closed.

“If no-one is taking care of the patients, what about responsibility in the event of death? Will the Government be sanctioned and the ministers suspended? By wanting to satisfy the political majority, we sometimes forget the reality on the ground,” Sabel added. “No one listens to us; But we are not playing politics here. Is it so hard for them to admit they are wrong?”

The CSC strike notice covers daily rallies from 22 to 26 November in many hospitals in Wallonia and Brussels. CSC Public Services expects that mobilisation to be even more robust by the end of the recent Week of Consultation and Information for Health Workers.

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