European Commission leaves workers out in the cold

21 March 2012

European Commission leaves workers out in the cold

Today the Commission has at last produced its proposals on the rights of workers in relation to the internal market, but in the SP’s view these are extremely disappointing, as Euro-MP Dennis de Jong explains: ‘This concerns the right to strike at foreign firms and to be paid an equal wage for equal work. On both fronts the Commission is leaving things as they are: the right to strike will be subordinate to economic freedoms and the Commission refuses once again to guarantee equal pay for equal work in all cases. This is a direct attack on the position of workers in Europe.’

Dennis de JongRecently the SP got hold of leaked documents which suggested that this would be the case, and the published final version of the proposals shows no improvement. 'In relation to the right to strike the Commission’s view is that a balance must be drawn between this human right and the economic freedoms of the internal market,’ notes De Jong. ‘This represents an additional limitation to this right and affects principally the already weaker position of workers employed by firms from outside their own member state. Without the right to strike the danger of exploitation will become still greater.’

In the proposal on the implementation of the posted workers’ directive the Commission limits itself to strengthening enforcement. ’Some proposals, such as the approach to exploitative employment agencies, are certainly necessary,’ says De Jong, ‘but the Commission refuses once again to take the bull by the horns. Enforcement would be a lot easier if equal pay for equal work was applied everywhere. The Commission elects instead to leave the existing precedents of the European Court of Justice intact. This means that, if there is no national collective work agreement, there’s no obligation to pay equal wages for equal work. Posted workers, moreover, have no right to pension provision in line with other workers, and this goes also for the social security system in their country of origin. The Commission is doing nothing to address the real problems.’

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