De Jong disappointed by European Parliament’s position on detached workers

16 October 2017

De Jong disappointed by European Parliament’s position on detached workers

The European Parliament voted today on the report by PvdA (Dutch Labour Party) MEP Agnes Jongerius on the reform of the detached workers directive. Describing himself as “disappointed”, SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong said “I value enormously  the efforts made by  Agnes Jongerius and know that she fought hard to get a good result, but I also see missed opportunities. Worst of all is the fact that equal pay for equal work will come in only after two years in which a worker is posted abroad by his or her firm, while the average length of such ‘detachment’ is only four months. This is disappointing. I also see it as bad that the possibility exists to draw up separate rules for lorry drivers, which doesn’t bode well.”

De Jong acknowledges that the report contains some positives. “It’s extremely important that posted workers’ conditions can now be tested against collectively bargained agreements, even when these don’t apply across the whole country,” he says. “Until now detached workers were entitled only to the rights accorded by generally binding collective labour agreements. This is an enormous step forward. The definition of what constitutes a wage has been improved too, because as things stand leave days and specific bonuses have been included.”

On the other hand De Jong is far from optimistic about the prospects of truly reducing exploitation of detached workers. “In my view equal pay for equal  work must be introduced as quickly as possible, preferably on day 1 of the detachment, but at the latest after a few months, not two years,”  notes De Jong. “The directive means that social payments and pension contributions will remain for two years at the level of the country of immediate origin of the detached worker. It’s precisely there that you see big differences, because a Romanian, for instance, will have a much lower pension and much lower premiums than is the case in the Netherlands. I’m appalled that here in the European Parliament this aspect has not once been discussed. So I’m not optimistic either about how the negotiations with the Council of Ministers will go and fear that exploitation on the labour market as a result of the detaching of workers in this way will continue for a long time.” The Parliament’s text will now be presented to the Council of Ministers, with whom a compromise text must be agreed before the measure becomes law.

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