Belgium: Social partners in construction sector conclude agreement during pandemic

20 April 2020 07:55

(Photo: Belga)

BWI Belgian affiliates welcomed an agreement reached with social partners in the construction sector last 15 April, which makes the rules of social distancing in workplaces a priority. The trade unions also said that workers will have the right to decline an employer's request to work if a worksite has one or more cases of COVID-19 or if a worker can demonstrate that she or he is part of a group at risk.

According to the agreement, non-urgent interventions and activities can still be carried out, provided that the rules of social distancing are respected. Otherwise, the work can be suspended completely or partially. In order to resume work, it will be necessary to call on the internal or external prevention service, of which the construction company is a member. In addition, these measures will have to be monitored by the Committee for Prevention and Protection at Work or by the trade union delegation. Small companies that do not have a trade union delegation will have to carry out a risk analysis and make it available to their workers.

Social partners explained that urgent interventions and activities include all work that cannot be postponed for health or safety reasons, as well as work to prevent damage or worsening of damage and work to ensure the operation of businesses, companies and services necessary to protect vital interests and the population during the crisis. The social partners also recognised that the rules of 'social distancing' must be applied on workers’ public transport. If this cannot be applied, individual transport must be provided.

For seconded workers, the social partners say that they should pay attention and comply with the rules set out by the National Security Council and the legislation in force.  

The social partners in the construction sector commit to draw up a joint protocol by 21 April to allow construction activities to resume as early as 4 May, as requested by Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès.