The COVID-19 experience has shown that the social value of professions has to be re-assessed as in most EU member states, health workers have been underpaid and undervalued for too long compared to their social impact, EU Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, Nicolas Schmit, told EURACTIV.com in an interview.
“This has to be revised. We have to look again at what the social value of professions is and not just having an hierarchy on wages that sometimes does not correspond to the social value,” Schmit said.
He added that COVID-19 has increased existent problems in Europe’s labour market.
“The evolutions of the labour market have also taken place before the COVID-19 crisis. We have seen in many countries more precarious types of work affecting especially young people, such as short-time, self-employed; these are part of the new realities and we have to work on that because this is not the perspective for people,” he said.
Schmit was critical of the fact that there has been too much focus on flexibility and the word security “has been forgotten”. During the COVID-19 crisis, he said, many people did not have social protection and therefore, had no income when they lose their job.
“We need to improve working conditions and bring back labour rights.”
Referring to the recovery after the pandemic, he stressed that some loans would eventually be helpful for some companies to recover but “adding debt to debt is not the right way”.
He added that helping Europe’s south in this crisis means actually helping the EU as a whole, considering that northern European countries export to the south, and they are all part of the EU single market.