OGBL's Health, Social Services and Education Syndicate reacts to recent COPAS comments

The diagnosis is correct, but the remedy is inadequate

The OGBL’s Health, Social Services and Education Syndicate wishes to respond to the comments made recently in the press by representatives of COPAS, and to make some important clarifications.

While the OGBL fully agrees with COPAS that the number of staff in the care sector is currently far too low to meet the growing needs of the population and the demands of the sector, the solutions proposed by the employers’ federation are nevertheless seriously flawed.

First, it is important to emphasize that the creation of a new healthcare profession, somewhere between that of the care assistant and that of the nurse, would inevitably introduce several classes of carer in Luxembourg, while it is high time to upgrade the already existing professions.

With the new Bachelor’s-level training for nurses, it is now crucial to offer attractive career prospects to care assistants at the same time.

In order to attract and retain the best talent in the care assistant profession, the OGBL insists that it is vital to upgrade training to precisely the level of a technician’s diploma, rather than creating an additional profession to match.

In this way, the high-quality work carried out in pairs by nurses and care assistants could not only continue to exist in the care sector, but the care assistant would also be given a new role in the hospital environment. In this way, the care assistant profession as a whole, which is vital to Luxembourg’s healthcare system, would be made more attractive to many young people looking for a profession.

Secondly, with regard to the salary conditions of healthcare professionals, the OGBL’s Health, Social Services and Education Syndicate is just as concerned as COPAS about the existing pay gaps in the sector, and welcomes the fact that COPAS has taken up the OGBL’s demand for a single collective bargaining agreement in the sector.

However, the OGBL would like to point out that harmonizing work conditions cannot be financially neutral, as the COPAS president suggests. Indeed, there is only one solution to salary discrepancies in the sector, and that is a net increase in the current lower salaries.

When COPAS suggests that one of the collective bargaining agreements could be upgraded with funding from the budget envelope dedicated to the other collective bargaining agreement, this means that the employers’ federation wishes either to lower, or to slow down, the well-deserved salaries of professionals in the hospital sector. An approach that the OGBL will obviously prevent with all its might.

Press release by the OGBL Health, Social and Educational Services syndicate, April 28, 2023