Posting of Workers Directive must become mechanism for social protection and convergence
Today the European Parliament’s Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL) voted on its position regarding the Commission’s proposal for a revision of the rules on posting of workers, issued in March 2016.
The long-drawn debate has centred on the key principle of ‘equal pay for equal work in the same workplace’ with MEPs diverging on the details of implementation.
The legislative report addresses social convergence, discrimination, equal treatment, duration of postings, identification of cases of fraud and recognition of collective agreements. The improved rules on posting of workers aim to close gaps in the 1996 Directive, which have allowed for social dumping and labour exploitation.
GUE/NGL MEP Rina Ronja Kari, the group’s shadow for the file, supported the proposals but stressed that the devil is on the detail when it comes to implementation:
“Equal pay for equal work is a fundamental principle for us in GUE/NGL. With EMPL's package of amendments the member countries will be more able to secure wages and working conditions. But it's important to understand that the problem with social dumping is not solved with this, as the conflict between the workers' collective rights and EU's inner market still remains”
“We want this Directive to become an instrument of social protection and social convergence and not an instrument of exploitation for big businesses and the free market. It is therefore important that the revised Directive recognises collective bargaining agreements and adequately addresses equal rights for sub-contracted workers.”
The committee debate highlighted gaps between the east and the west of Europe.
National parliaments in 11 member states – mostly from Eastern Europe as well as the Danish parliament – had last year triggered the subsidiarity control mechanism (the so-called 'yellow card' procedure). In response, the Commission argued that posting of workers is a cross-border issue by nature therefore under its competence, deciding to keep the original proposal in place. Eastern European governments seek to retain a competitive advantage on cheap labour.
The Danish MEP explained what is at stake with the current revision of the Directive, the first since the EU’s eastern enlargement:
“There is a lot of say about contradicting interests between the east and the west of Europe, but it is important to stress that this is about contradicting interests between workers and their bosses! To the east European workers I want to say: we want you to be able to travel to other European countries and work, while having the same conditions as your local colleagues. Today we have taken an important step in ensuring that,” Kari concluded.