Photo credit: Credit Score Geek
Trade unions are calling on banks and big business to do their bit to overcome the economic consequences of the coronavirus crisis by suspending dividends payments and share buybacks.
Most companies would normally be set to pay out dividends shortly and shareholders are forecast to receive a record €359bn in dividends this year – an increase of €12 billion on the previous year.
European workers affected by the coronavirus crisis will keep receiving up to 100% of their normal wages under protections won by trade unions.
ETUI research for the ETUC has found 18 EU countries, Norway and the UK have taken some measure to protect the jobs and wages of workers who have been temporarily laid off or had their hours reduced.
Commenting on the outcome of today’s European Council online meeting, Luca Visentini, General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation said:
“We totally agree with the Italian Prime Minister that the proposals put forward for dealing with the economic cost of the coronavirus crisis are completely inadequate. Some national leaders have wasted the opportunity to ensure workers’ livelihoods are protected, public health services are properly funded and we avoid another damaging recession killing thousands of companies.
The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and the Pan European Regional Council of the International Trade Union Confederation (PERC) strongly urge the European Council, meeting tomorrow, to approve the opening of accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia - righting the wrong decision that was made in October 2019.
The ETUC is calling on the Eurogroup to support corona bonds, and the European Commission to postpone its EU economic-policy making Semester.
“It is time to launch the EU pandemic-bonds” said Luca Visentini, General Secretary of the ETUC. “Europe risks a recession even worse than the one following the financial crisis of 2008-9 and needs to invest in protecting jobs and the economy.”
The European Trade Union Confederation sends a message of solidarity to our Croatian affiliates, the SSSH and NHS, following the devastating earthquake which hit Zagreb and Croatia on Sunday.
Speaking on behalf of ETUC members in 37 other countries across the continent, General Secretary Luca Visentini said:
“Trade unionists across Europe send their strongest solidarity to the Croatian population, workers and our colleagues in Croatia at this extremely difficult time.
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Efforts to raise wages and improve working conditions across Europe are being set back by the deliberate misuse of European data protection legislation to deny trade union rights.
An ETUC survey of affiliates about the implementation of GDPR in member states found a worrying new trend of employers abusing the law to deny trade unions their right to contact workers at work.
Responding to the European Commission’s emergency measures on Coronavirus, ETUC General Secretary Luca Visentini said:
“People who are ill, caring for family or unable to work because of coronavirus should not suffer financially, so trade unions welcome the European Commission’s commitment to protecting workers from unemployment and loss of income.
“The Commission must ensure that financial support reaches all workers, including the self-employed and those with precarious jobs who are most vulnerable.
Welcome to our Spring 2020 edition of Workers’ Voice National Updates, with the usual potpourri of European trade union activities. This quarter, we showcase how unions are representing an ever-wider range of workers, such as temporary agency workers, young people and apprentices, fashion assistants, journalists…. And trade unions are also teaming up with civil society, community and religious groups to combat hate speech, support fair migration and seek the “common good”.
The ETUC is calling for paid sick leave for all workers across Europe as the coronavirus exposes the danger to public health posed by the cuts made to sick pay by member states.
European Commission figures show the majority of member states have reduced spending on sickness benefits since the 2008 financial crisis.
Responding to the publication of the European Commission’s Gender Equality Strategy, ETUC Deputy General Secretary Esther Lynch said:
“At a time when we are seeing a backlash against gender equality, European action that pushes member states to renew the fight to end discrimination faced by women every day at work is much needed. We urge Ursula von der Leyen to be bolder, stronger and faster.
Responding to the European Commission’s publication of the European Climate Law, ETUC Confederal Secretary Ludovic Voet said:
“The Commission is right to enshrine climate neutrality into legislation but it’s regrettable that they have not yet proposed an interim target for 2030. This is needed to plan for the transition and have a credible EU climate diplomacy position ahead of COP26 in Glasgow.
The ETUC has used a meeting with the EU’s Home Affairs Commissioner to call for protection to be offered to the thousands of displaced people at the Turkey-Greece border.
General Secretary Luca Visentini met with Ylva Johansson today, where he said the EU must treat the situation as a humanitarian emergency rather than a threat to Europe’s borders, ending unjustifiable violence towards vulnerable refugees.
Responding to the European Commission's European Semester Winter Package, ETUC General Secretary Luca Visentini said:
“The Commission recognises that wage inequalities are increasing and life is getting tougher for low-wage workers, underlining the urgent need for higher statutory minimum wages where they exist and measures to promote collective bargaining in every member state.
The ETUC today staged a protest with a difference outside the European Commission headquarters as a cast of street performers visualised the struggle for equal pay.
A wire walker crossed a rope suspended 2 metres in the air to symbolise the difficult journey between the gender pay gap and equal pay, while musicians led chants including “get up stand up, stand up for equal pay.”
Just one fifth of adverts on Brussels’ biggest job websites are transparent over pay, a trend that is contributing to Europe’s 16% gender pay gap.
The ETUC analysed 100 job adverts on the Eurobrussels and Euractiv job websites in the first part of February and found just 19 of them gave details of a pay grade or pay range.
Most gave no details of what remuneration candidates could expect, while others stated that they offer a “competitive” package based on experience.
The ETUC strongly condemns the appalling racist crime committed in Hanau, Germany. We express our sincere condolences to the families and we reiterate support to our colleagues. More than ever, across Europe the fight against far right and racist crimes and violence must be united and determined.
At least 3.3 million fewer workers are benefiting from a collective bargaining agreement across the European Union today compared to the beginning of the century, the latest figures show.
Collective bargaining coverage is down in 22 of the EU’s 27 member states since 2000 as a result of deliberate policies implemented by member states and endorsed by the European Commission, often because of a mistaken idea that high levels of collective bargaining are bad for the economy.
Commenting on the launch of the European Commission’s strategies for digital and AI, ETUC confederal secretary Isabelle Schömann said:
"The introduction of AI in the workplace must be done in an ethical and legal way that protects workers from disproportionate and illegal surveillance or discriminatory treatment because of biased algorithms. That’s why trade unions welcome commitments in the strategy to ensure there are the safeguards on privacy and safety needed to make AI technologies fit for the workplace.
Productivity increased more than wages* in a majority of EU member states.
From 2010 to 2019 wages increased less than labour productivity in 15 EU member states according to new calculations by the European Trade Union Institute (based on figures from Ameco database).
Wage growth lagged behind productivity increases by:
The European Commission announced today a partial withdrawal of trade concessions to Cambodia under its preferential trade arrangement, Everything But Arms (EBA). The decision came after a long period of ‘enhanced dialogue’ initiated by the EU in order to pressure the Cambodian government to stop persecuting opposition leaders and to roll back other authoritarian measures.
Workers in two thirds of EU member states are receiving a smaller share of their country’s GDP than they were at the beginning of the decade, official figures show.
European Commission statistics show wage share – a key indicator of inequality - has fallen in 18 member states between 2010 and 2019.
Ireland saw the biggest fall in the percentage of GDP paid out in wages at 19%*, ahead of Croatia (11), Cyprus (6), Portugal (5) and Malta (5).
Responding to the European Commission’s review of economic governance, ETUC General Secretary Luca Visentini said:
“Trade unions welcome this review of economic governance as an opportunity to draw a line under a decade of harmful austerity and begin a positive programme of investment and upward convergence of working and living conditions that will make Europe fairer for working people by delivering sustainable growth, social cohesion and a socially just transition to a green economy.