Yolanda Díaz and Commissioner Schmit in Bilbao advocate a Europe with safer and healthier jobs

News - 2022.11.14

The Second Vice-President of the Government of Spain has defended a Europe with safer and healthier jobs together with the European Union Commissioner for Employment and Social Rights, Nicholas Schmit, with whom she also held a bilateral meeting within the framework of the Healthy Workplaces Summit.

In her speech at the summit, in which she was also accompanied by the Basque Minister for Labour and Employment, Idoia Mendía, Vice-President Díaz was categorical: "We cannot talk about integral health in the work environment if we do not do it from the perspective of dignified work, with respect for the time of people and families". In her opinion, time for care is the great ethical duty of today's society.

Social justice is a guarantee of occupational health

Díaz and Schmit, who promoted the already approved directive on Minimum Wages within the Union, agreed on the positive effects on health of measures such as the increase in the Minimum Interprofessional Wage (SMI). "The fight against job insecurity is health, which is why the application of anti-discrimination policies cooperates with the construction of safe and healthy work ecosystems", said Díaz, also pointing out other legislative initiatives that likewise contribute to social justice and decent work, such as the labour reform, due to its potential to reduce job insecurity, and the royal decree law, which recognises the right to prevention for domestic workers, who until now were excluded from the prevention of occupational risks, among others.

Spanish Strategy for Health and Safety at Work

The vice-president also pointed out that work is currently underway to draw up a new Spanish Strategy for Health and Safety at Work, in which the gender perspective will play a prominent role and the concept of technological health, which deals with problems arising from certain digital occupations in which the limits of disconnection, working time and even privacy are blurred, will be explored in greater depth.

"Mental health at work is the great challenge of the 21st century", insisted the minister, who advocated building business contexts that respect and dignify all workers" and encouraged the social partners to finalise this new strategy as soon as possible.

Healthy Workplaces: "Let's lighten the load" campaign

The summit in Bilbao, home of EU-OSHA, focuses on musculoskeletal disorders, or MSDs, a two-year campaign to promote prevention in companies to reduce the incidence of these disorders. According to figures from the agency, around three in five workers in the EU report having suffered from this type of muscle, joint or tendon disorder.

This ailment, which is one of the most common causes of disability, sick leave and early retirement, is not only due to physical risk factors, but can also be influenced by psychosocial elements such as job insecurity, excessive workloads and the lack of boundaries between work and personal life when teleworking.

Bilateral meeting with Commissioner Schmit

The directive on digital platforms and the prevention of accidents at work were two of the issues addressed in the bilateral meeting between the minister and Schmit.

"When a worker dies at work, the system has failed," said the minister, harking on the 613 fatalities recorded in Spain. Díaz indicated that criminal offences related to the field of labour will be addressed with the Ministry of Justice because there are enormous difficulties in investigating them. "The reality of the world of work today is far removed from the society in which these criminal offences were designed," he explained.

The Vice-President of the Government of Spain and the Commissioner also discussed how to make progress on the Social Economy and the European social agenda in the coming year, when Spain will hold the Presidency of the EU during the second half. "We must intensify our efforts to continue advancing towards the social Europe that we want", Díaz insisted at the end of the meeting.

Non official translation