Posted Workers’ Directive: once again, European Parliament puts market before people

20 June 2013

Posted Workers’ Directive: once again, European Parliament puts market before people

The European Parliament today voted to confirm its position in the imminent negotiations with the European Council – which directly represents the member states – and the European Commission on proposals for improved enforcement of the rules on equal pay for equal work.

The Posted Workers’ Directive regulates the rights and conditions applying to workers from one EU member state who are employed in another. As a member of the EP’s Internal Market Committee, SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong has been closely involved in the debate over the proposals. ‘The European Parliament is continuing to put the internal market before people. Social rights such as the right to strike and the right to equal treatment between domestic and foreign workers are still not fully recognised. Even the proposal to ban strike-breaking using posted workers from another EU member states was rejected.’

De Jong had proposed a number of amendments to the directive, including the addition of the right of posted workers to decent housing. ‘Posted workers are unfortunately often the victims of extortionate practices where they are forced by the employer to accept poor quality housing for which a large slice of their wages is deducted,’ he explains. ‘My proposal was to ban such practices. Its rejection means that degrading housing at extortionate rents will continue to exist. ’ The SP also believes that cooperation between labour inspectorates in combatting abuses could be improved. ‘It’s a positive development that efforts are now being made to intensify cooperation and improve mutual recognition of sanctions against fraudulent firms but that’s certainly not enough,’ says De Jong. ‘I proposed the strengthening of the network between labour inspectorates and the establishment of a single database in which abusive firms would be listed. In addition, posted workers should be able to bring their questions to a central information source. All of these proposals were rejected. These were missed chances which will lead to uncertainty and a great deal of unnecessary duplication of work.’

The European Parliament approved the negotiating position by a narrow majority. In De Jong’s assessment, this means that the eventual outcome of the conciliation process by which Parliament, Council and Commission agree a common position could be tense, as will the final vote by the EP plenary on whether to approve that agreement. He points out that this will make it ‘extremely important that the trade unions and left forces keep up the pressure. We will have in the next few months the chance to win a great deal more than is in the current position.’

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