Trade unions call on European Parliament to end ‘social dumping’
TRADE unions said yesterday that ending “social dumping” now depends on the European Parliament after Monday night’s “disappointing” deal in Brussels. Employment ministers from the 28 member states agreed limited rights for “posted workers” imported from low-wage countries to the pay and conditions of their host country.
The agreement, which must now be approved by MEPs, includes equal treatment for temporary workers and limits the terms of posting from 24 to 12 months — with a possible six-month extension.
But the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) pointed out a host of failings in the deal.
It said the deal fails to cover many collective agreements and excludes transport workers — some of the worst affected by social dumping as their work carries them across borders.
And it said there was no legal basis for the protections to be enforced in court, nor adequate guarantees that workers’ allowances would be paid.
The EU “four freedoms” dogma of free movement of capital and labour, backed by European Court of Justice (ECJ) rulings, allows employers to effectively shop for the lowest wages across the bloc.
The problem was highlighted by the 2007 Viking and Laval disputes between the International Transport Workers’ Federation and ferry operators using cheap Estonian labour and flag-of-convenience vessel the Rosella to serve Finnish ports.
The ECJ ruling limited the right to strike action where it infringed the “four freedoms.”
But in a victory against social dumping, the ECJ ruled last month that Irish budget airline Ryanair must hear employees’ disputes in the jurisdictions where they are based.
ETUC confederal secretary Liina Carr said it was thanks to the Estonian presidency of the Employment and Social Policy Council of Ministers that the deal was struck.
Ms Carr urged MEPs to “stand up for working people across Europe” when they debate the agreement this week.
“Justice for posted workers matters to all workers, because unfairly exploiting posted workers puts pressure on the wages and conditions of workers everywhere,” she said.
“Equal pay is the only fair outcome.”
On Monday, British TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady urged the government to back the new rules, which would “make it harder for dodgy bosses to undercut wages by exploiting migrant workers.”