Ahead of this evening's debate on the posting of workers, GUE/NGL MEP Thomas Händel, Chairman of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL), said he was dissatisfied with the European Commission's draft proposal on the subject.
With this proposal, the Commission seeks to improve the conditions for workers who are deployed to work in other member states. However, MEP Händel said he could find “no progress” in this afternoon's draft version.
The number of posted workers in the EU member states has increased in the last three years from one million to 1.9 million. The risk of abuse is when the service workers deployed often work under worse conditions than local workers.
To prevent such abuse, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced in autumn 2014 that he wanted to implement the principle 'equal pay for equal work in the same place'. “This would be a step forward if it was generally applied from the first day of the posting of workers. Then both wage competition and distortions of competition would be prevented,” said Handel.
The Commission's draft provides that:
– Posted workers should be completely assimilated compared to local workers only after they work for 24 months in a member state. But 90 percent of the posted workers work less than 24 months in a given member state. This is an invitation to European employers to force the remuneration of posted workers below the usual local wage and tariff levels.
– Even after 24 months, only statutory minimum wages or wages generally applicable through collective agreements would be paid, but not the vast majority of collective agreements.
– A major problem is the issue of the liability of contractors. Thomas Händel explains: “We have always stressed that the general contractor liability should be binding once legislation is introduced. This would prevent that 'dumping wages' would be paid when contracts are being awarded to contractors. No one can live on these wages.”
– To completely circumvent any rules, workers are now sent as pseudo-self-employed. “This is not a solution to the problem,” Händel said.
– The draft does not address either the abusive use of temporary workers or the possibility of effective control by workplace inspections. Host countries must be notified in time of the posting of workers in order to be able to control them.
The question remains how seriously the Commission takes the social dialogue when trade unions and employers are consulted in a written survey on this point, but no real consultation takes place. “This contradicts the principles of social dialogue,” said Handel.
After protests from the European Parliament and from workers, the European Commission has seemingly decided to amend its draft.
Thomas Händel concluded: “I am very excited to see how these changes will look when the updated draft is presented to the Parliament in Strasbourg this evening.”
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