Local Public Services and Trade Unions through the Covid Pandemic: The Case of Welfare Care Kempen

Local Public Services and Trade Unions through the Covid Pandemic: The Case of Welfare Care Kempen

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The Covid-19 pandemic has prompted local public service providers to rapidly adapt, review their processes and operations and re-deploy staff under duress. The case of Welfare Care Kempen (Belgium) showcases the vital role played by constructive social dialogue between local public service management and local and regional government (LRG) unions representing Welfare Care Kempen (WCK) workers. Besides, public ownership and direct management enabled the intermunicipal consortium to: (1) continue to bring care to the most vulnerable users; (2) protect workers even in the absence of clear directions by the authorities at the onset of the public health emergency; and (3) maintain a close relation with the local communities. Such features that characterize Welfare Care Kempen have safeguarded continued access to quality local public care and welfare services for the Kempen community, while protecting workers as they had to swiftly respond to an unprecedented public emergency.