Patricia King salutes workers providing essential services in spite of the risks

21 Apr 2020

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The Covid-19 public health emergency dominated discussion at the Executive Council of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, which met via video link today (Tuesday).

The Congress executive expressed its enormous gratitude to the thousands of workers in all sectors of the economy – private, public, community and voluntary – who continue to provide essential services on the island of Ireland, often at considerable personal risk to themselves,

These include workers in retail, transport and distribution, as well as residential care homes, the health service and other parts of the public and private sector.

Congress general secretary Patricia King said unions were actively working to ensure that measures – including adequate public health procedures and essential PPE – are put in place in all sectors to ensure that staff are adequately protected.

“Workers in the health service, care homes, retail and other parts of our economy have selflessly put themselves at risk in order to serve their communities and the greater good. We value and admire the exceptional contribution they have made, and are making, during this crisis. Congress insists that, at the very least, they should have practical supports in the form of the strongest possible health and safety protections and childcare supports for essential health workers.

“Yesterday, Congress also raised with government departments and employer bodies the absolute requirement for workers’ health and safety to be strongly underpinned in all sectors, including construction, when economic activity begins to resume,” she said.

The Congress executive also addressed the massive economic disruption caused by the Covid crisis, and the fact that well over a million people on the island are now dependent on public income supports.

“The crisis has quickly exposed the massive shortcomings in our system of housing and social security, while demonstrating the huge value of our public services, which have rightly won widespread public admiration at this time. We cannot go back to failed policies of the past after this crisis. That’s why Congress is now working on detailed proposals to ensure that recovery policies in both jurisdictions on this island are capable of creating a society and economy that’s more secure, more equal, more united, and better prepared for future shocks,” she said.

ENDS