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Covid-19 bonus

More French workers demand a share of Macron's Covid-19 bonus

French president Emmanuel Macron and his new prime minister Jean Castex, at the Bastille Day ceremony, Paris, 14 July 2020.
French president Emmanuel Macron and his new prime minister Jean Castex, at the Bastille Day ceremony, Paris, 14 July 2020. POOL/AFP
3 min

French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Tuesday a €1,000 bonus for carers who assist elderly and handicapped people in their homes. This rankled with unions representing security workers who on Wednesday protested in Lyon to show their anger over being left out of the bonus scheme.

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On a visit to Toulon, in southern France on Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron admitted that employees who help fragile and elderly patients at home had been largely overlooked in the Covid-19 crisis and deserved a 'Covid bonus' of €1,000.

He announced a €160 million package which would allow workers in this field of work to receive their bonus by the end of the year.

"These men and women were forgotten when the Covid bonus was being handed out," said Macron, greeting workers and patients.

This measure, demanded by the workers for some time now, will apply to 320,000 home care assistants, who look after over 1 miillion elderly and handicapped people in France.

A long struggle to be recognised

In April, the government announced a bonus package for hospital and health workers on the front line in the fight against Covid-19.

€500 was allocated for hospital staff and €1,500 for health workers in the 40 departments most affected by the epidemic, between 1 March and 30 April 2020.

In June, the federation for home care workers – 97% of whom are women - expressed their anger over the fact that they were not included in the bonus package delivered to hospital and medical staff, even though they were also on the front line.

Despite Tuesday's announcement, some in the sector are hoping for a permanent salary raise, which in turn would attract new recruits to the profession in the future.

"It's never enough, but it's important to rectify the situation with home carers, who need to be recognised," the minister for solidarity, health and autonomy, Brigitte Bourgignon said on Tuesday.

She said a consultation period would begin with ministers in September, after the summer vacation, in order to discuss the creation of a fifth branch of social security dedicated to the needs of elderly citizens.

Security workers want compensation

Meanwhile, the CGT union representing workers in the security sector protested in Lyon on Wednesday morning to demand their share of the Covid bonus and payment for overtime during the height of the crisis.

The employees of BSL Sécurité gathered near central Lyon's train station to draw attention to the fact that they were also overlooked when the initial government package was announced, and are calling for a bonus of €2,000..

"It's about time the professionalism of the BSL staff was recognised," the CGT statement said.

"Even when faced with an extremely difficult situation, they never failed to show up for duty, and continue to do so."

"We've been on the front line since the beginning. We were alongside all the other workers who kept the country going during confinement," a union member Philippe Boislandon told BFM on Wednesday.

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