Meetings of the PERC Women Committee members to celebrate the World Day for Safety and Health on 28 April

The PERC Women committee members organized meetings to celebrate the World Day for Safety and Health which takes place on 28 of April. During the meetings members of the committee exchanged information about the COVID -19 situation in their countries; situation of women’s health, gender aspects of OHS and activities organized with the occasion of 28 of April celebration.

The participants acknowledged that since emerging as a global crisis in early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has had profound impacts everywhere. The pandemic has touched nearly every aspect of the world of work, from the risk of transmission of the virus in workplaces, to occupational safety and health (OSH) risks that have emerged as a result of measures to stop the spread of the virus. Shifts to new forms of working arrangements, such as the widespread reliance on teleworking, have, for example, presented many opportunities for workers but also posed potential OSH risks, including psychosocial risks and violence in particular.

The present situation is showing the importance of strengthening the OHS systems, creating and investing in resilient OSH systems. PERC women committee expresses its support for vaccination equity and continues its fight against raising inequality.

The members of the committee have seen that health and safety is far from a reality for all workers. During the COVID crisis many essential workers, among which women are overrepresented in the care and cleaning sectors, have not had adequate protection. The same applies to precarious workers, migrants and other vulnerable groups , whose limited social protection gives them no choice but to continue working, even if they have coronavirus symptoms.

PERC women committee members consider that working from home has its own risks like increased domestic violence (up by a third in some EU countries during lockdown), longer hours unable to disconnect, and a lack of appropriate equipment at home. The growth of workers in digital platforms leaves increasing numbers of workers without proper protective equipment – only 35% of platform workers say their platform had taken measures to assist them in the pandemic.

PERC women committee members consider that trade unions and safety representatives play a vital role in ensuring health and safety. Any working person who cares about their own health and safety at work should join a union and find out if they have a safety representative. A trade union can help to ensure that a safety representative is appointed and listened to by management and trade unions fight for better health and safety in the workplace and in law.

PERC Women committee members are lobbying national governments to push for the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to implement its centennial conference decision in 2019 to make occupational safety and health a fundamental right at work! This campaign goes hand in hand with the campaign for ratification of ILO Convention 190 and Istanbul Convention, which can stop violence and harassment and insure decent life and working conditions for women and men!