In a Strasbourg plenary debate today on the Commission's withdrawal of the maternity leave directive, three GUE/NGL MEPs strongly defended this fundamental right.

GUE/NGL MEP Inês Zuber said: “We need to work harder to defend the rights of working mothers. That's the only way we are going to combat the problem of ageing societies and low birth rates.

“As the dominant political forces are always talking about their social concerns, why don't they explain to us why governments that belong to these same political forces don't manage to increase women's rights?”

GUE/NGL MEP Ángela Vallina said: “There is more and more discrimination of women at work because of pregnancy. The withdrawal of this directive is going to affect thousands of working women and it is also going to have an impact on the lives of young couples. This action flies in the face of the EU's claims to stand for equality between men and women.

“The economy should be at the service of the people and not the other way round. Women once again will be unprotected in terms of reconciling personal and private life.”

GUE/NGL MEP Malin Björk said: “The Commission's proposal was certainly not good enough. For one thing it only talks about mothers' roles; there is no mention of two mothers or two fathers or any other kind of parenting model.

“And now the Commission is withdrawing the entire proposal. This can only be interpreted in one way – it is a slap in the face for women's rights and for equality. And I don't think it is likely that the Commission is going to come back with a better proposal; Mr. Juncker didn't have a single word to say about equality. Inequality is growing between men and women. Women's problems on the labour market are growing. Withdrawing maternity leave can't be seen in any other way than patriarchal arrogance.”

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