Netherlands: Union concerned COVID-19 protocols not followed

11 May 2020 09:20

The BWI-affiliated FNV Bouwen en Wonen reported that COVID-19 health and safety protocols are not strictly observed in the construction industry. 

In a survey that the union has conducted with more than a thousand construction workers, 36 percent said that they cannot fully comply with the health authority’s physical distancing protocol of 1.5 meters. 23 percent said that COVID-19 measures are not strictly observed at workplaces, while another 19 percent said that their companies have not taken such measures. The survey also showed that while 64 percent of respondents said that their employers take the COVID-19 crisis seriously, 14 percent said they did not. 

On the transportation of workers to work, FNV said that the government protocol requires workers to commute alone. If that is not possible, workers are asked to maintain a 1.5-meter distance during their journey. According to the union’s survey, half of the respondents travel alone, while 40 percent travel with a companion.  While 76 percent managed to keep sufficient distance, 11 percent admitted that they failed to observe the measure.   

The FNV said that it wants the labour Inspectorate to audit all the companies’ COVID-19 measures and enforce protocols set by the government.

 “Two weeks ago, the protocol "working safely together" was tightened to provide for safer working situations in construction. In practice, it appears that many employers and workers do not comply with the protocols, or cannot do so. Keeping a 1.5 meters distance and the regular washing of hands are not going well. For example, too many people in the survey say that there are too few facilities available to properly wash their hands," Peter Roos, FNV negotiator for the construction sector explained.

“The 1.5-meter economy is now a fact.  As such, protective measures for workers are urgently needed," Roos added. 

Meanwhile, FNV’s survey also showed that a quarter of the respondents said that flexible and temporary workers are sent away from their worksites. “I am a temporary worker myself. And I have seen this at a construction company where I was working, all temporary workers were sent away,” one respondent said. 

More than a thousand workers, FNV members and non-members, participated in the survey. Most participants are covered by the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) for construction and infrastructure.