This is not the time to think about profits, this is the time to think about saving lives.
As more countries take drastic measures and more companies suspend production, daily life remains dependent on a range of essential products and services. IndustriAll Europe emphasizes its gratitude and respect for every worker in ‘essential jobs’ but warns employers against keeping unnecessary production going.
We draw attention to the cases of Belgium or Italy where workers in the entire chemical and pharmaceutical industries are forced to continue working because these industries are classified as essential. In Belgium, the entire chemical and pharmaceutical industry is decreed “crucial and essential" by the government. Unless specific arrangements are made within companies, the containment rules do not apply to workers in the whole sector.
While most of the pharmaceutical sector certainly qualifies as essential, industriAll Europe disputes that this should apply to the whole range of chemical production.
“We call on all employers not to use loopholes to keep unnecessary production running when workers fear for their health. This is not the time to think about profits, this is the time to think about saving lives. Definitions of essential production must be used restrictively and a maximum protection of workers’ health must be guaranteed.”
The current health crisis also highlights the issue of limited availability of pharmaceuticals. IndustriAll Europe has been warning about Europe’s growing dependency on a few suppliers of basic or intermediate pharmaceutical products in Asia for years.
Luc Triangle states:
“To be clear, we are not calling for protectionist measures or reverting to state planning. We are calling for the identification of the most crucial active substances and the return of their production to Europe.”
IndustriAll Europe expects that the lessons learnt from the COVID-19 will be clearly reflected in the Pharmaceutical Strategy that the European Commission plans to publish later this year.
“We explicitly welcome that a fast-track call for research into diagnostics and treatments of COVID-19 has yesterday been launched under the European Innovative Medicines Initiative.”