ETUC challenges the European Commission to meet workers’ concerns on the draft Services Directive
At a meeting of the Trade Union Intergroup at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on the 28th of September, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) challenged EU Internal Market Commissioner Charlie McCreevy to reaffirm the European Commission’s commitment to take account of the views of both trade unions and MEPs about the potential dangers to workers’ rights in the draft Services Directive.
The ETUC strongly opposes some aspects of the proposed law, and in particular the ‘country of origin’ principle, which could lead to workers doing the same job in the same place in the EU, but with very different working conditions and wages, depending on where they were originally employed.
At this Intergroup, the cross-party committee focusing on labour and trade union issues - Mr McCreevy recognised the need to avoid social dumping.
“We appreciate the Commission’s undertaking that the draft Directive should not have the effect of undermining workers’ protection,” responded ETUC Confederal Secretary Jozef Niemiec.
Both independent experts and MEPs have agreed on the threat the original ‘Bolkestein’ draft poses to workers’ rights, contractual arrangements and collective agreements. The Employment Committee of the European Parliament has already agreed extensive amendments, showing that it takes on board the ETUC’s concerns.
“We have heard from the Commission that it has understood this message and wants to reach a just conclusion on this important issue to the world of work,” Mr Niemiec told the meeting. “The European Social Model has not only an economic dimension but must also defend fundamental rights. EU regulation must ensure the good working of the market, but also respond to other objectives closer to European citizens. Trade unions from west to east share the same opinion.
We are talking about defending the basic right of workers in the same place to be paid the same salary for doing the same job”.
Mr Niemiec welcomed support for the ETUC’s view that vital services of general interest, such as health care, should be excluded from the proposal, which is mainly addressed to commercial service providers. Some MEPs at the meeting criticised the Commission for leaving the European Parliament to resolve the many problems left by the draft proposal, rather than undertaking a comprehensive revision.
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