Which professions are truly indispensable?

People standing at windows and balconies and applauding medical staff has become a gesture of solidarity during the corona crisis. But it's not just hospital staff who are being seen in a new light. The restrictions of lockdown are prompting commentators to reflect on which professions are most important for society.

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Kurier (AT) /

Heroes of daily life coming to the fore

Now it's becoming clear who we really need, Kurier notes:

“Suddenly they are in the spotlight and the heroes of daily life. Those who otherwise tend to be overlooked - and not very well paid either. In the corona crisis, there is no home office for the primary care providers, no watching from a distance. These providers can't avoid social contacts, they must do their job even amid the crisis - so that we have food, the rubbish is taken away, delivery services work, medical care is guaranteed and important information reaches the population. Without them, this country would collapse. A quick thank you is one thing; a necessary upgrading of these professions once this is all over is the other.”

Zeit Online (DE) /

Applause from balconies not enough

The new appreciation is all very well, but it doesn't go far enough, says Zeit Online:

“It's not enough to post a few lines on social networks or stand on your balcony and clap your hands. ... We should ensure that employees receive compensation for overtime, that working hours are respected and that they get more holidays. Collective agreements are needed for all those in these professions. Not only in hospitals, but also for lorry drivers and cashiers. ... Last but not least they need the prospect of a decent pension, of a future without poverty in old age. If professions are systemically relevant this should be reflected in their salary, working conditions and pensions. We should not forget this even after the corona crisis.”

El País (ES) /

The crisis is hurting journalists

Quality journalism is more important than ever now but the newspapers are under threat, El País comments with concern:

“Advertising revenues have dropped by up to 80 percent within just a few weeks, while the curfew is also affecting sales. ... Seldom have the media demonstrated their social function so clearly. ... Asserting that providing information as an essential task at this time does not mean demanding privileges for the media but rather highlights their special commitment to society. A commitment that cannot be sustained if this crisis continues.”

Le Soir (BE) /

Social workers as vital as doctors

To ensure that the most vulnerable in society aren't left in the lurch, social workers must also receive adequate funding and appreciation, the leaders of a group of social workers' associations write in a joint appeal to the Belgian government in Le Soir:

“We can get through this difficult period and even strengthen solidarity and cohesion in our society in the process. But this cannot be done without state support, clear announcements and funding. We need to hear your acknowledgement that alongside medical staff social workers are also contributing to the fight against Covid-19. You need to protect social workers, give them priority in the allocation of childcare in schools, and recognise that the services they provide by phone are every bit as vital as physical presence, as you have done with the doctors.”

Jyllands-Posten (DK) /

Politicians working together

Without saying so explicitly, Jyllands-Posten implies that politicians are among those whose work is system-relevant:

“In Denmark they stood together and made the most important decisions on how to shut down the country quickly and which economic packages should be pushed through. ... At the same time, it's clear that what is happening now will be subject to a comprehensive evaluation at a later date. Did they do the right thing fast enough? The prime minister has wisely admitted in advance that mistakes will be made. ... But now there is every reason to applaud the politicians at this time for showing so clearly what it will take to get us through this crisis.”