The European Commission on Wednesday (3 June) categorized the coronavirus as a “mid-level” hazard to EU employees – drawing criticism from socialist MEPs and trade unions as the category enables organisations to use less strict safety procedures in the work environment.
The commission categorized the infection as a level-3 threat on a 4-group danger list – although there is still no treatment readily available to treat or avoid coronavirus, an illness that has actually eliminated over 379,000 people worldwide.
When a biological representative “can cause severe human disease and present a serious hazard to workers; it may present a risk of spreading to the community, but there is usually effective prophylaxis or treatment available,” according to EU guidelines,
Level-3 threat is utilized.
Level-4 is used for those that posture a “high risk” of infection without any prophylaxis or treatment readily available.
Nevertheless, a commission representative stated on Wednesday that “the existence or absence of prophylaxis cannot be considered as a standalone criterion”.
The decision follows the clinical guidance of specialists from the 27 member states, the European Center for Illness Avoidance and Control and the World Health Organization, the commission stated.
In Addition, the EU executive prompted both the European Parliament and European Council to authorize the proposition as rapidly as possible.
However the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) in the parliament stated on Wednesday that they will look for a bulk in the chamber to turn down the commission’s decision in a vote anticipated in June.
Nevertheless, the commission’s decision is right away suitable.
“We strongly oppose the decision by the commission to classify Covid-19 only as a mid-level hazard. Covid-19 is the biggest health challenge of our lifetime,” stated MEP Agnes Jongerius, who belongs to the parliament’s committee on work.
“Now, that millions of workers will be sent back to their workplaces, we have to make sure that they too are adequately protected and a second wave is prevented,” she added.
Jongerius likewise voiced issues about the absence of openness of the treatments set out in the EU’s Biological Agents at Work Directive considering that there is no public info readily available about the specialists spoken with by the commission or the thinking behind their decision.
The parliament’s committee on work is anticipated to vote the decision on Thursday (11 June), which will be followed by the vote in the full plenary in the next session.
Possible argument for Eurosceptics?
On The Other Hand, trade unions likewise was sorry for the EU executive’s decision and gotten in touch with member states to carry out more stringent procedures to safeguard employees up until a treatment or vaccine is readily available.
“Research shows that the characteristics of the virus justify its classification in the highest risk group, not only because of the lack of effective treatment or vaccine but because of the high risk of workers who are in contact with the public spreading the virus to the community,” stated deputy basic secretary at the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), Per Hilmersson
However the commissioner for work and social rights, Nicolas Schmit, stated that the brand-new category “complements the already stringent measures in place, improving the protection of all workers, especially those who work directly with the virus in hospitals, industrial processes and laboratories”.
Nevertheless, ETUC specialists cautioned that the option of Level 3 would imply that “the commission did not fully consider the high sensitiveness of the problem,” considering that lots of healthcare specialists have actually passed away due to coronavirus and thousands have actually got contaminated throughout Europe.
ETUC likewise worried that this decision might even supply strong arguments to Eurosceptics.
“Member states have adopted an exceptionally high level of precautionary approach which is fully justified. Nobody would understand that a lower level should apply to the workers,” they stated.
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