Deteriorating working conditions, lack of staff, job burnout: the health sector has been experiencing a serious crisis for a number of years. Across Europe, the trade unions are ringing alarm bells. The health of their members is at serious risk. In the countries worst affected by the recession, the policies of austerity have made the situation even worse and their knock-on effect has been a reduction in the quality of care. In Spain, the need to reduce the public debt has been very cleverly exploited to push through plans to privatise institutions. The right to health is now at risk, not only for the most vulnerable. Many Spanish nurses, especially younger ones, are heading for Germany. Meanwhile, Germany, which can barely meet the extensive care needs of its older generations, is turning into the laboratory for disgusting social dumping practices. Highly qualified workers there are faced with deteriorating employment and working conditions, especially in care homes for the elderly. Physically and mentally exhausted, fed up watching their private life being whittled away by work, and powerless in the face of the market pressures that are reshaping their sector bit by bit, nurses are planning to leave the profession. There are no signs that the public authorities are aware of the full extent of the malaise.
In this special report, the European Trade Union Institute looks to identify the main factors that are undermining occupational health services in Europe: shortage of specialists, overwork that undermines the quality of services, loss of direct contact with actual working conditions, feeling of being forsaken, commercialism of health and safety at work services, etc.
The latest issue of ETUI's HesaMag focuses on working conditions in the waste and recycling industries in Europe.
The special report of the latest issue of HesaMag looks at workers' exposure to chemical risks. Six years after the REACH Regulation came onto the books, is Europe’s chemicals market now kinder to health and the environment?