Flexicurity will get nowhere without reinforcing rights for workers, says the ETUC
At the Portuguese Presidency conference on ’Flexicurity: Key Challenges’ in Lisbon today, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) will urge the European Commission to make workers’ rights a key facet of European labour market reform.
The European Commission and the Council are drawing up common principles for implementing ‘flexicurity’ across the EU. The ETUC stresses that pushing Member States to make structural reforms without at the same time building a strong European framework to guide them will be counter-productive. Member States will only be able to strike a real balance between flexibility and security if European policy ensures:
a level playing field protecting workers from unfair competition on the European internal market;
a level playing field for taxation, preventing tax competition from eroding government revenue, needed to fund social benefits, quality education and active labour market policies,
growth-friendly macroeconomic policies that channel higher adaptability and skills into more and better jobs.
Said ETUC General Secretary John Monks: “The ETUC accepts that globalisation requires greater adaptability, either in a new job or in an existing one. However, what we do not accept is that business should be offered virtually unlimited flexibility through the EU’s failure to prevent Member States from competing via the pursuit of precarious work practices.
“To prevent ‘flexicurity’ becoming ‘flexploitation’, the Commission should take responsibility for shaping a strong social dimension to the internal market, guaranteeing workers’ rights and workers’ security. The ‘E’ of European policy should be put back into the equation.”
The ETUC is calling for the Commission, the Council and European social partners to structure the flexibility debate around an agenda including:
A directive on temporary agency work, based on the principle of equal pay for equal work;
Establishing the right to request flexible working hours and to a maximum limit on weekly working hours for all European workers, in order to improve work/life balance;
Establishing the right to request a full-time job for the millions of involuntary part-time workers;
Ensuring labour law covers and protects all workers who find themselves in a de facto relationship of subordination;
Full implementation at national level of the existing rules laid down by European social directives and framework agreements.
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