Wednesday 22 March 2023

Unions call for €150 million fund to compensate Long Covid sufferers


Care workers and teachers who have developed Long Covid should be entitled to compensation from the government, trade unions said on Monday.

The government did not do enough to protect the health of people working in healthcare or education during the height of the pandemic and thousands of them are entitled to cash payments, the FNV and CNV trade union federations, and the AOB teaching union say.

The unions want the government to set up a €150 million fund for the thousands of people who are living with Long Covid.

‘These people are waiting for recognition and the government owes them something,’ FNV deputy chairwoman Kitty Jong said. ‘We want to call the state to account for the failure of its coronavirus strategy in healthcare and education.’

The FNV healthcare union and the AOB opened registration lines several months ago in an effort to establish the size of the problem. So far they have received over 6,000 reactions and 1,000 reports of people losing their jobs because they have been ill for more than two years.

In particular, the unions say the government is partly responsible for failing to ensure healthcare workers had proper protection and that schools and daycare centres were properly ventilated.

Many healthcare and school employees became infected at work and are now suffering financial damage as a result. With government compensation, the heroes who sacrificed their health will finally getting recognition for their situation,’ Jong said.

At one point, public health institute RIVM also said healthcare workers did not need to wear face masks unless coronavirus had been confirmed in a patient and employers actively discouraged staff from doing so. The government also said for a time that children were not infectious.

A legal case is also being prepared and will be started if the compensation fund does not materialise, Jong said.

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