Tens of thousands demonstrate against Bolkestein’s Services Directive

14 February 2006

Tens of thousands demonstrate against Bolkestein’s Services Directive

In front of the European Parliament building in Strasbourg, tens of thousands demonstrated against the so-called Services Directive originally brought forward by now ex-European Commissioner Frits Bolkestein. Amongst them could be found a delegation of SP members, including Harry van Bommel, MP and Euro-MPs Erik Meijer and Kartika Liotard. The number of demonstrators exceeded all expectations.

De kop van de betoging met meer dan 40.000 demonstranten
The head of the demonstration, which was more than 40,000 strong

In addition to the SP, hundreds of members of the Netherlands' main trade union grouping the FNV (Federation of Dutch Trade Unions) were in attendance. The EU plan would make it easier for service providers to operate outside their home countries within other EU member states. Building contractors and dockworkers from Poland or Romania would be allowed to work in the Netherlands under Polish or Romanian conditions of employment and at the wage levels prevailing in their own countries. It would not be possible for Dutch workers to compete with this, as, for example, Romanian wages are 80% lower than wages in the Netherlands. The Dutch and European labour market threatens, should the directive be approved, to become a jungle. The compromise reached last week by the Christian Democrats and Social Democrats was ostensibly aimed at reducing these negative effects, but in fact offers nothing but makeshift cosmetic measures.

Part of the SP delegation

It is principally the right-wing parties and therefore those currently governing the Netherlands which are bringing pressure to bear for further liberalisation of the European labour market, in order to justify the forcing down of wages in western Europe as well as cuts in social provision and pensions. This would also enable them to argue for lower taxes and the further dismantling of public services, because the directive would force countries to compete on the basis of wage costs and tax levels. The proposal is made in the same spirit as was the rejected European constitution. The demonstrators have nothing against the idea of increasing the scope for working elsewhere in Europe, but demand first and foremost equal pay for equal work and therefore fair competition on the labour market and for small firms.

FNV'ers Polen Hier is de SP

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