The European Commission will publish a proposal for a Directive on Fair Minimum Wages and Collective Bargaining tomorrow (28 October).
The ETUC suggests the following key tests for the Directive. Does the Directive:
1. Oblige member states to take action to ensure respect for the right to bargain collectively and stop union-busting?
Airline passengers and aircrew will enjoy safer air during flights if the EU accepts new safety standards drawn up by industry stakeholders.
The new draft standard on aircraft cabin air quality includes measures to prevent exposure to engine oil and hydraulic fumes onboard aircraft during commercial flights.
The standard would also benefit airlines by streamlining methods to investigate cabin air contamination events involving oil and hydraulic fluid and, in doing so, reducing costs.
Ahead of the informal video conference of ministers for Competitiveness on 23 October, Isabelle Schömann, ETUC Confederal Secretary, calls on the ministers to take the ETUC priorities on board for a sustainable and responsible Industrial Strategy for Europe that delivers quality jobs for all.
The European Commission’s Work Programme 2021 contains some positive commitments, some surprising omissions and at least one absurd proposal according to a first assessment by the ETUC.
On the positive side are commitments to
The European Labour Authority (ELA) has failed to take real action over the first cases of worker exploitation referred to it a year ago by trade unions.
When the ELA started work in October 2019, trade unions brought ten cases involving the non-payment of wages, holiday pay, sick pay and social security contributions to the attention of the Authority.
The cases, which are typical of the abuse faced by cross-border workers, include:
The European Commission has today adopted its ‘Renovation Wave’ strategy, which is designed to address the current low building decarbonisation and renovation rates of around 1% across the EU and tackle the underlying barriers for improving the energy efficiency of the EU building stock. Currently, roughly 75% of the building stock is energy inefficient, yet almost 80% of today’s buildings will still be in use in 2050. At the same time, more than 50 million European households suffer from energy poverty.
EU labour ministers meeting tomorrow are being urged to send a clear message to companies restructuring because of Covid that they must respect trade unions and workers’ right to a say in the process.
Major restructuring processes are ongoing in all sectors as a result of the Covid crisis and in many cases companies are flouting their workers’ rights to information, consultation and participation to business decision affecting their working conditions and employment.
Trade unions are launching a campaign for an EU law to tackle work-related stress amid a mental health crisis worsened by the lockdown.
Work-related stress had already become an epidemic before confinement, accounting for more than half of all working days lost in the EU. New Eurostat data shows one in three workers are always or often working under time pressure, a major cause of stress.
European trade unions are backing the European Parliament’s call on the Commission to ban unpaid internships and invest in quality jobs for young people amid soaring youth unemployment.
The proposal is part of a Parliament resolution passed today aimed at improving the European Commission’s weak proposal for a Reinforced Youth Guarantee.
The EU’s gender pay gap won’t be eliminated until the next century at the current pace of change, ETUC research shows amid a delay in promised European Commission action to end the scandal.
Eurostat data shows the EU gender pay gap has closed by 1% over the last eight years, which means women will be waiting for another 84 years to achieve equal pay if current trends continue.
Without binding pay equality measures to change the current trends, the ETUC also found:
Responding to the conclusion of the European Council, ETUC General Secretary Luca Visentini said:
“The dependence on imports which caused shortages of PPE and medical supplies during the Covid crisis showed just how important it is that Europe develops more strategic autonomy.
“But EU leaders can’t achieve that aim without strong domestic industries, which were already struggling against unfair global competition and have now been pushed towards major cuts and redundancies by Covid.
The European Trade Union Confederation is calling on national governments to maintain emergency job protection measures as EU unemployment rose for the sixth month in a row.
According to Eurostat official figures published today, 238,000 more people became permanently unemployed between July and August.
That means the number of permanent job losses since lockdown began in March is over 1.7 million, taking total EU unemployment to 15.6 million.
The overall unemployment rate has increased from 6.4% to 7.4% since March, and from 14.5% to 17.6% among young people.
Commenting on the European Commission’s Rule of Law report ETUC General Secretary Luca Visentini said
“The European Union is supposed to be a union of democratic countries where the rule of law is supreme – yet the rule of law is being undermined in a number of countries, and firm action is needed to re-establish it.
Responding to the launch of the European Commission’s new Pact for Migration and Asylum, ETUC Confederal Secretary Ludovic Voet said:
“Trade unions know the meaning of solidarity and this is not it. Fortress Europe looks stronger than ever.
Trade unions welcome action by the European Commission today to protect over 1.1 million people from work-related cancer by putting binding exposure limits on three dangerous substances.
The Commission has proposed Binding Occupational Exposure Limit Values (BOELs) on Acrylonitrile, Nickel compounds and Benzene as part of an update to its Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive (CMD).
The European Commission’s Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy, published on Thursday, provides few clues as to how it intends to deliver greater social fairness that it commits to in its €750bn Recovery and Resilience Plan, warns the ETUC.
The Survey is supposed to show the next steps for the EU’s recovery, but does not reveal the next steps for social fairness and just transition.
The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) supports the European Commission’s proposal for a new -55% GHG emission reduction target, but the plan to achieve it published today overlooks the just transition needed to make the change fair for workers.
Commenting on the 2030 Climate Target Plan, ETUC Confederal Secretary Ludovic Voet said:
Responding to the State of the Union speech, ETUC General Secretary Luca Visentini said:
“Ursula von der Leyen perfectly described Europe’s low pay problem today without clearly committing to the solutions: ending minimum wages below the poverty threshold and the right to collective bargaining for all.
“The Commission president said she is a ‘strong advocate’ of collective bargaining. But we need to hear her plans for concrete action that will help the 76 million workers currently excluded from collective bargaining achieve genuinely fair wages too.
Ursula von der Leyen has taken an important step towards securing trade union support for her plans on minimum wages today with a pledge in the Swedish media to protect and promote collective bargaining.
The European Commission president said that the EU will “never” impose a statutory minimum wage on the six member states which set wages exclusively through collective bargaining – Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Italy and Sweden.
Wage levels in Europe are tied closely to whether workers are covered by collective bargaining, official figures show.
In nine of the ten EU member states with the lowest average wages and minimum wages, just 7% to 30% of employees benefit from a wage level negotiated by trade unions.
Commenting on the European Commission’s first Strategic Foresight Report, ETUC General Secretary Luca Visentini said
“ETUC supports any policy initiative that helps to manage change in a sustainable, fair and democratic way.
“A longer-term perspective is useful, especially if it leads to new policies consistently contributing to a fairer and more inclusive society.
"A shift from the current GDP-based narrative of measuring progress towards a more well-being centred one would be welcomed by the ETUC as this has been a long-standing demand.