On 6 October, the Social Employers and EPSU hosted a joint thematic seminar to discuss the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the social services sector and explore concrete actions and measures taken by of social partners to handle the crisis.
The event was held in the framework of FORESEE , a project that aims to achieve more attractive social services through social dialogue.
In his welcoming remarks Gregor Tomschizek, President of the Social Employers, stated:
“Our sector has been severely affected by the pandemic, many of the pre-existing financing and staffing difficulties were aggravated. The Social Employers and EPSU issued a joint statement, calling for some immediate support measures for the sector, and agreed on a joint position paper on the preparedness and resilience of the sector. Today’s meeting will be an important opportunity to further take stock of the impact of the pandemic on our sector, explore the way social partners handled the crisis together and share our key learnings for a better preparedness.”
The event started with a presentation from Dana-Carmen Bachmann, Head of the Modernisation of social protection systems Unit at the EU Commission on the 2021 report on Long-term care (LTC). She highlighted the structural challenges, lack of preparedness and the extreme pressure on workers during the pandemic, which makes clear the need to recruit and retain an adequate workforce to meet the rising demand for high-quality services, as well as further investment and reforms. She also provided information on the forthcoming European Care Strategy, to be published in 2022.
Bernadette Allinger and Georg Adam from the Working Life Research Centre FORBA presented some key findings from the soon to be released report “Impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the social services sector and the role of social dialogue”, which was put together in cooperation with the FORESEE project partners. The report highlights the impact of Covid-19 on the employment situation in social services, on working conditions and recruitment and retention. It also emphasizes the role of social dialogue in the face of the crisis, and provides key learnings and recommendations, focusing on attractiveness, investment, digitalisation and social dialogue.
The second part of the event brought together employers and employees representatives from 6 EU countries. Maria Panzenböck-Stockner, Volkshilfe (AT), Guillaume Boucheron, Nexem (FR), and Tim Kind, ActiZ (NL) presented their initiatives at national level for direct help and support during the pandemic. Elise Lay, UNIPSO (BE), Dietmar Erdmeier, Verdi (DE), Markus Netter, vida (AT) and Jiri Horecky, APSS CR (CZ) provided an overview of the policy actions and agreements they achieved in their countries to address the crisis.
All interventions highlighted the key role of social dialogue at national level and the need to further promote a social dialogue culture to face future challenges. This is the reason why the Social Employers applied together with EPSU for a sectoral social dialogue committee for social services at European level.