More union anger over CovidCheck at the workplace

Representatives of the CGFP public sector union during a press conference on 11 October Photo: CGFP

Representatives of the CGFP public sector union during a press conference on 11 October Photo: CGFP

 The introduction of the CovidCheck system at the workplace is raising more questions, as public sector union CGFP, financial sector union Aleba and the LCGB added their concern over the government's proposal.

Prime minister Xavier Bettel (DP) on 8 October had announced that companies would be able to introduce the CovidCheck regime in the workplace under laws to be voted at the latest on 18 October. The certificate would be considered part of workplace regulations, also allowing companies to introduce disciplinary measures for staff unwilling to get vaccinated or tested.

However, the draft law includes little detail on how the system should be implemented.

The president of public sector union CGFP on Monday called the proposal “shocking”, saying it would potentially threaten the livelihoods of employees. The union said rapid antigen tests should remain available as an option.

The government plans to abolish the use of an on-site self-test for the CovidCheck system, meaning only certified rapid antigen tests, PCR tests, vaccination or recovery certificates will be recognised. At the same time, Luxembourg’s large-scale testing campaign--which provided free PCR tests--has come to an end.

“The question hasn’t really been answered,” Wolff said about what happens to employees who cannot show a valid certificate. “There is a danger of disciplinary sanctions. There is even a risk that people lose their job. We cannot agree to this.”

Financial sector union Aleba warned of data protection and medical secrecy violations at companies introducing the CovidCheck system, saying its lawyers were analysing the proposal.

“Aleba will support its staff delegations for a fair and reasonable interpretation [of the law],” the union said in a press release. “The choice of whether or not to be vaccinated cannot constitute a threat or a source of pressure for employment,” it said.

Labour union LCGB meanwhile said the government was passing the hot button issue of crisis management on to employers without setting clear rules.

While it said that preventing the spread of the coronavirus must be a priority, it said employees who fail the CovidCheck should not be penalised. It also said that the introduction of the system by employers must be done in agreement with the staff delegation.

Unvaccinated staff should get time off work to get tested, the LCGB said, and all costs to introduce the CovidCheck must be covered by employers.

“Any non-compliance with these rules should be reported immediately to the LCGB so that it can react accordingly in the company concerned,” the organisation said in a statement.

Labour minister Dan Kersch (LSAP) on Monday defended the plan speaking to lawmakers in parliament. He said the proposal was designed to allow a maximum of flexibility to companies on how they wish to implement the CovidCheck.

It could be used, for example, to access offices or only for meetings or assemblies. It also leaves it up to employers on what to do with a member of staff who refuses to be checked, from making the person work from home to issuing an official warning or not paying their salary.

Companies don’t have to introduce the CovidCheck system but will need to abide by distancing and mask rules for employees if they don’t.