Joint letter from Ferpa and Epsu to the European Council and the European Commission

The joint letter of the of the Ferpa General Secretary Agostino Siciliano and Epsu General Secretary Jan Willem Goudriaan to the European Council and the European Commission

Dear President of the European Council, dear Mr. Michel,
Dear President of the European Commission dear Mrs Von der Leyen,

Thursday the European Council will discuss the Recovery Plan for Europe. As European
Federations of the ETUC, EPSU for the workers in care and public services and FERPA for
retired workers and elderly people, we support the demand of the ETUC for an ambitions plan for
the economy and to guarantee jobs as unemployment increases. We do want to express our
profound deception that the Commission in its Recovery Plan, and the Council in its discussions,
have paid little attention to how the pandemic has effected the elderly and the workers that take
care. We ask you to address this and start investigations of what went wrong in the health
systems and in particular in elderly care, so the necessary steps can be taken and not to repeat
mistakes. This needs to be done in consultation with the organisations concerned.
The Recovery Plan for Europe has just one line devoted to long term care. There is no
recognition that long term care facilities have been underfunded, in many countries because of
policies of austerity. Nor is there acknowledgement that the workers in both elderly, residential
and home care, mostly women, have been serious effected by the pandemic and that their work
has been undervalued and underpaid. They lack resources and staff. And the Recovery Plan has
no additional funding to assist long term, residential and home care. This is combined with a lack
of attention of the authorities for the elderly which are the most vulnerable people and the
workers so dramatically symbolised by the lack of personal protective equipment and the high
mortality among the elderly and among elderly care workers.
Dunja Mijatović, the Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe suspects that human
rights violations occurred and which could have been prevented, in her statement of 20 May. (…)
“In many countries and individual institutions, management of the crisis appears to have been
fragmented and chaotic, with care personnel often being left to their own devices. Some have
made heroic efforts to save residents, sometimes confining themselves in the facilities and
avoiding contact with their own families; some countries, like Romania, even made it mandatory
for staff to isolate themselves in long-term care facilities or specially designated places. In other

cases, residents were left in absolute neglect or abandoned despite having been infected, as it
was reported in Spain, for example. (…)
She went on “There is understandable outrage and frustration among family members who lost
their loved ones under very opaque circumstances. Many have made criminal complaints about
the management in care homes, for example in France. In Spain, prosecutors opened criminal
investigations for a number of facilities for older persons, and similar investigations are also
ongoing in Italy. In accordance with their obligations under Article 2 of the European Convention
on Human Rights regarding the right to life, member states must shed light on all the deaths
occurring in these institutions, without exception.” We want the Council to order these
investigations.
The Human Rights Commissioner points out how Member States have probably violated various
conventions and not guaranteed the elderly, disabled and other vulnerable groups of people their
right to health and right to care, and including the Right to long term care as enshrined in the
2017 European Pillar of Social Rights (principles 16 and 18). Human rights violations have
occurred that need to be explored and addressed so they are not repeated in possible second
wave of this pandemic that has effected Europe so profoundly. The investigation will assist in
taking the appropriate measures and prevent that in a second wave.
The European Commission should include funding for long term- , residential and home care (like
it did for health care with the EU4Health programme) in its financial proposals. This is an urgent
need. We ask you to support this.
Dear Presidents, for workers and the people in the European Union action is needed now.
We remain available for further discussion on how best to prevent that the elderly and others in
care are not gain the victims of ill policies

 

Joint letter from Ferpa and Epsu to the Council of Europe

Brussels, 17 June 2020
Dear President of the Parliamentary Assembly, Dear Mr. Rik Daems
Dear General Secretary, dear Mrs Marija Pejčinović Burić
The pandemic has caused havoc in Europe with many people infected and hospitalised. Mortality
has been high and especially among the elderly as well as among those workers providing care.
EPSU and FERPA, the European Federations representing workers in care and public services
and people in retirement and the elderly respectively, request the Council of Europe to investigate
the causes and possible solutions to this high mortality.
The Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe, Mrs. Dunja Mijatović has urged the
Member States of the Council to carry out such investigations. We see it as a task for the Council
to compare the experience in different countries and explore if there are communalities. We
agree with the Commissioner that violations of the human rights of the elderly took place
whenever they were refused care. The lack of protection for workers caring for the elderly and
other vulnerable groups exposed them but also those they care for to unnecessary risks and this
needs to be urgently addressed. This will help prepare countries for a second wave of the
pandemic and for any future pandemics.
As regards the European Union we are disappointed there is no recognition that in many
countries austerity measures have lead to underfunding of long-term care facilities. Nor is there
acknowledgement that the workers in elderly, residential and home care, mostly women, have
been seriously affected by the pandemic and that their work has been undervalued and
underpaid. There is a lack of both resources and staff. And whereas billions are pumped into the
economy, no additional funding appears to be made available to assist long-term, residential and
home care.
Mrs Dunja Mijatović suspects that human rights violations have occurred which could have been
prevented. In her statement of 20 May she said: (…) “In many countries and individual
institutions, management of the crisis appears to have been fragmented and chaotic, with care
personnel often being left to their own devices. Some have made heroic efforts to save residents,
sometimes confining themselves in the facilities and avoiding contact with their own families;

some countries, like Romania, even made it mandatory for staff to isolate themselves in long-term
care facilities or specially designated places. In other cases, residents were left in absolute
neglect or abandoned despite having been infected, as it was reported in Spain, for example. (…)
She went on: “ There is understandable outrage and frustration among family members who lost
their loved ones under very opaque circumstances. Many have made criminal complaints about
the management in care homes, for example in France. In Spain, prosecutors opened criminal
investigations for a number of facilities for older persons, and similar investigations are also
ongoing in Italy. In accordance with their obligations under Article 2 of the European Convention
on Human Rights regarding the right to life, member states must shed light on all the deaths
occurring in these institutions, without exception.” We want the Council to undertake these
investigations.
The Human Rights Commissioner points out how Member States have probably violated various
conventions and failed to guarantee the elderly, disabled and other vulnerable groups their right
to health and right to care, including the right to long-term care (enshrined in the EU in the 2017
European Pillar of Social Rights (principles 16 and 18)). Human rights violations have occurred
that need to be explored and addressed so they are not repeated. The investigation will assist in
taking the appropriate measures to prevent such violations in a possible second wave or future
pandemics.
Dear President, Dear General Secretary
We remain available for further discussion on how best to prevent that elderly and others in care
are not again the victims of underfunding and such inadequate and ill-devised policies.

Read HERE the response from the Council of Europe’s President of the Parliamentary Assembly

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