Public health must be the top priority

Mar 31, 2020
Mikel Noval and Pello Igeregi, members of the Executive Committee, have taken part representing ELA on the crisis panel convened by the Basque Government for the 26th of March. Noval and Igeregi defended the top priority of public health, for which “we must reach a control situation using fast tests as soon as possible, instead of lagging behind in the contagion rate.”

Accordingly, they described the difficult situation thousands of workers have to face in their jobs, particularly in old people’s homes, hospitals and food stores. Furthermore, ELA pointed out that reducing non-essential activity is the greatest contribution to public health that can be implemented at present.

For ELA, from the very beginning this crisis has underlined “the urgency of taking on new social steps to protect the people affected by the crisis: those who have lost their jobs, who will find it difficult to find a job with decent conditions; in short the most vulnerable sector of our society.”

At the previous meeting of the Panel, ELA set forth the idea that this must be a basic work line, but the Basque Government has not given a response that is even minimally in line with the seriousness of the situation. The steps adopted this week to mitigate the social crisis, in addition to arriving late, fall very short of what is needed.

ELA has urgently demanded:

  • A guaranteed minimum income for all the unemployed who do not receive unemployment benefit, of an equivalent amount to the minimum wage.

  • In the RGI system (minimum income benefit), a derogation of the provisions which, regarding the amount, prevent the law of 2008 from being applied.

  • The establishment of an allowance that guarantees the income and the social security payments of the people who have had to take on care tasks as a result of decisions such as the stopping of classes in all educational centres.

  • Not giving companies carte blanche to use ‘ERTEs’ (temporary redundancy plans) for an unjustified time period and to demand that contracts may not be terminated for temporary workers.

  • A moratorium to be given for evictions and exemption for the payment of rent and mortgages for those affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

  • To guarantee the cover of rights and basic needs such as housing, food and energy, particularly for the most vulnerable groups. The prohibition of cutting off the power supply for a 3 month period.