Care workers in Colombia feel ignored by German multinational Fresenius
On April 3, the SINTRASASS union in Colombia contacted Clínica del Prado, part of the German multinational Fresenius, requesting a meeting in person or virtually to discuss workers' concerns on health, safety and the risks that caring for patients during this health emergency poses.
Clinic staff continue to be exposed to working conditions that do not comply with the established regulations and the Ministry's protocols, as they continue to take their uniforms home to wash, putting themselves and their families at risk. Although they have spoken with area coordinators to request gowns, the clinic has told them that it does not have the resources or the gowns for all staff.
Although the company says that it has implemented all the necessary measures, several workers told UNI that they still do not have the n95 masks. "We assume all patients are Covid-19 positive until proven otherwise, therefore, they must be cared for with effective protective equipment" said a nurse from Clínica del Prado.
One Clínica del Prado worker said: "What concerns us the most is that we are wearing uniforms, thus we run a double risk of infecting our homes. The workers asked their coordinators for permission to wear the clinic's gowns, but the clinic refused their request by arguing that there are not enough gowns for all the staff. The workers are feeling emotionally drained because their families are also being put at high risk".
"Why don't they meet with us in small groups, two or three people from each area and explain the protocols and listen to our concerns and needs" she added.
Despite the context of the workers' daily reality, which is far from solving or proposing a safe work environment for each and every worker, the Clínica del Prado refused to meet with the union: "[the clinic] has taken all measures, according to the guidelines established by the Ministry of Health, the National Institute of Health, the Ministry of Labour and other departmental and municipal entities, taking into account the phases of an epidemic in the country, for the care and protection of the physical and mental health of each of our workers." The letter concludes: "therefore, it is not necessary to hold a personal or virtual meeting to discuss the issues raised in your letter."
Although the union requested a meeting for workers to express their concerns and propose some actions, such as creating a committee with the directors of the clinic and three union members to follow up on safety measures, Clínica del Prado has chosen not to listen to them and act from corporate irresponsibility, putting workers and patients at risk, ignoring that any error and lack of protocol can be fatal.
This situation has not escaped the reality of other Fresenius clinics, as in the case of Clínica Las Vegas and Clínica Medellín, where the Ministry's protocols are not being implemented, nor are personal protective equipment being used, as described in the report prepared by the National Union School, which you can read here.