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Germany: slow start to coronavirus testing in companies causing controversy
Planet Labor, 7 April 2021, n°12457 - www.planetlabor.com

In line with a decision by Germany’s Federal Government and its various Länders on 03 March 2021, companies are being called on to offer free weekly (at least) Covid rapid antigen tests to employees who are physically present at their place of work. These company screening campaigns are a core element of Germany’s national strategy to combat a third wave in the coronavirus. March 2021 was also the month that saw the country’s major employers’ associations (BDA, BDI, DIHK, and ZDH) call on companies to offer antigen tests once a week to those employees who so wished. However according to a survey published by the WSI research institute (within the trade union linked Hans-Böckler Foundation) on 06 April 2021, despite these urgent calls, the corporate screening campaign is only making slow progress. Only 23% of the employees surveyed said that they had had the opportunity in the final fortnight of March to undertake a rapid antigen test at their workplace and 17% reported that their employers had announced testing opportunities, but these had still not commenced. In light of the poor results, the trade union foundation has called on the coalition government to make rapid antigen testing compulsory, as is already the case in both the Saxony and Berlin Länders. Employers have refused this trade union call point blank. However Chancellor Merkel’s government has already indicated that it will introduce compulsory testing in companies nationwide if the number of tests carried out remains too low.