The letter demands assistance for “people who depend for their income on the European Parliament and whose income is affected by the suspension of many activities due to COVID-19.”
This, it states, relates to staff, for example, working in Parliament’s visitors’ facilities, including the European House of History and the Parlamentarium as well as employees working in the assembly’s childcare facilities.
It adds, “We consider this a non-exhaustive list but this matter has to be considered urgently as people are suffering due to conditions specific to the Parliament’s needs and are not solved by measures taken by the Belgian government.”
The MEPs say that the 150-200 employees working for the private companies Sodexo and Manpower in Parliament’s visitors facilities can receive temporary unemployment benefits and those with permanent contracts (CDI) also receive financial support (chômage technique).
But the situation is less secure for the estimated 50-60 staff with temporary contracts. The deputies say that, since mid-March when the outbreak started, these employees have received only weekly contracts.
The letter, sent to Parliament’s President David Sassoli and members of the bureau, now wants Parliament’s administration to ask the “responsible subcontractors” to guarantee that weekly contracts will be extended “until at least 31 August.”
The MEPs also state, “We are concerned for those with temporary contracts and would welcome it if you could ask subcontractors to provide as many (staff) as possible with a permanent contract instead of weekly contracts.”
“Weekly contracts make it very difficult for staff to plan ahead and to provide security, including health insurance, in times where security and certainty over employment status play a significantly more important role.”
"This matter has to be considered urgently as people are suffering due to conditions specific to the Parliament’s needs and are not solved by measures taken by the Belgian government" Letter from MEPs
The appeal comes after freelance interpreters in Parliament and the other EU institutions called recently for more understanding about their economic situation caused by the pandemic.
The MEP letter asks Sassoli and Parliament to deal with the issue “as a matter of urgency”, making a comparison with the efforts the institution has made to provide shelter and food to the most needy in Brussels.
It goes on, “The European Parliament takes its responsibility to its community by offering meals to health care workers in Brussels.”
“Hopefully, it will also make sure all staff involved have the proper health and safety measures applied. It should also make sure that it takes care of all the people whose incomes depend on the European Parliament.”
The letter is signed by Socialist group MEPs Klára Dobrev, a vice-president of the European Parliament, Heléne Fritzon and Agnes Jongerius and Greens members Terry Reintke, Damian Boeselager, Daniel Freund and Kira Peter-Hansen. GUE deputies Manon Aubry and Nikolaj Villumsen also signed the letter.