What was discussed in plenary session of the Social Dialogue Council on 17 December 2020
On 17 December 2020, a plenary session of the Social Dialogue Council was held, chaired by Mr Jarosław Gowin Vice-President of the Council of Ministers, Minister of Development, Labour and Technology. The meeting was dedicated to discussing the government’s actions in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic and discussing the position of the Polish Government on the draft directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on adequate minimum wages in the European Union.
In the first part of the meeting, the Minister of Health, Mr Adam Niedzielski, listed the actions of the government and the health service related to the eradication of the coronavirus. He informed about the process of the COVID-19 pandemic over time, from spring this year to the present. He outlined the Government’s strategy to prepare for the second wave of the pandemic, which consisted m.in. retrofitting hospitals with medical equipment. He said that since the second half of October, the number of cases had started to increase alarmingly, and the most dangerous moment was November, when nearly 28,000 infections were reported per day. He pointed to a stabilisation of 10,000 infections per week. He pointed out that efforts are being made to ensure an adequate number of hospital beds for coronavirus patients, while ensuring that the right level of care is ensured for patients suffering from other conditions. He pointed out that 80,000 COVID-19 tests were carried out in September this year. He announced that 30,000 people had been covered by a new remote medical care system, using pulse oximeters, connecting to smartphones and transmitting measurement results online to attending physicians. He pointed to the help of WOT soldiers in coordinating the number of hospital beds, which translates into a faster flow of information between ambulance crews on hospital vacancies.
The social partners expressed concern about the state of the Polish health service. They pointed to the need for the government side to provide transparent, more detailed information on changes to existing and new restrictions. The employers’ website also drew attention to issues related to additional fees that will hit hospitals, such as the so-called power fee, which will charge some medical institutions up to PLN 1.5 million. It also referred to the potential emergence of new economic restrictions.
With regard to the statements made by the Minister of Health, the social side has drawn attention to issues related to adhesive contracts which are concluded with medical personnel; high number of deaths of doctors and nurses during the fight against the pandemic; no increase in salaries for staff caring for COVID-19 patients; insufficient level of hospital equipment; overload of medical personnel.
In the second part of the meeting, Iwona Michałek, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Development, Labour and Technology, announced that the government side is setting arrangements with the EC for the introduction of a European minimum wage. It pointed out that the draft European minimum wage is contrary to EU treaty law and that Poland is negatively concerned with limiting the autonomy of the Member States. She pointed out that in Poland the ratio of minimum wage to average wage is currently around 51%.
The social partners stressed that the debate on the European minimum wage should take place before the government’s position is sent to the EU. At the same time, possible obstacles to the introduction of a European minimum wage have been raised, given the differing socio-economic situation in the different EU Member States.