Wednesday 22 March 2023

Trade unions threaten legal action over long covid compensation


The two largest Dutch trade unions have threatened to take legal action against the government unless it offers compensation to healthcare workers suffering from long covid within three weeks.

FNV and CNV, who represent 1.75 million workers in the Netherlands, say the government has failed to address the needs of some 5,500 frontline healthcare workers who are still suffering the effects of coronavirus infections in the early waves of the pandemic.

‘We are very incensed that nothing has been arranged for these care providers yet. They have been fired, have lost a large part of their income and are incurring high costs because of their illness,’ Kitty Jong, vice-chairman of the FNV, told the AD.

The unions would prefer for the government to act without a lawsuit, while the lower house of parliament has also called on the cabinet to provide compensation.

In June the Council for Public Health & Society, an independent advisory body, called on the government to provide ‘generous’ compensation to those suffering from long-term complaints.

According to the unemployment agency UWV, some 600 healthcare workers have been declared unfit for work due to long covid symptoms. A further 1,000 have been on sick leave for two years, risking termination.

In the Netherlands, employers are obligated to pay a full salary for the first year of sick leave and 70% for the second year. After that, employees can be declared unfit to work and fired.

Long covid sufferers complain of fatigue, difficulty breathing, and trouble concentrating.

The unions say that government guidelines for protective equipment and quarantine violated World Health Organisation standards, allowing hundreds of healthcare workers to become infected.

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