(Brussels, 28 January) As Covid-19 vaccinations achieve regulatory approval in the EU, European trade union federation EFFAT, food manufacturers association FoodDrinkEurope and agricultural employers’ association GEOPA-COPA have urged Member States to consider the food and drink workforce as a priority group in their vaccination plans. They have issued the following joint statement:
The approval and availability of vaccines against Covid-19 is a huge step forward in the fight against the global pandemic. Vaccinating the entire EU population will take significant time and due to the limited number of doses available not everybody can be immunised immediately.
The European Commission has provided guidelines to Member States when developing their vaccination strategies. It has noted six priority groups including health care workers, the vulnerable and elderly, and “essential sectors outside the health sector” including agriculture and food sector workers. The Commission urged Member States to “consider” these priority groups. On this basis:
- We strongly recommend Member States follow the Commission’s recommendation to include all agriculture and food sector workers as a priority group as they develop their national vaccination strategies.
- We urge Member States to consult social partners, including sectoral social partners, in the process of developing their vaccination rollout.
When Covid-19 first hit, food workers were categorised as ‘essential workers’ in many Member States and our dedicated workforce continued to work throughout the pandemic to ensure that food has been available to every citizen in Europe, often risking their own health.
Food security can only be ensured when the health and safety of the workers in the food and drink industry is protected and production can run smoothly. This holds true in the workplaces, as well as when considering a vaccination strategy.