Minimum wage directive boost to struggling workers

Europe took an important step towards ending poverty pay today as the Directive on adequate minimum wages cleared its final vote in the European Parliament with a convincing majority of 505 MEPs in favour, 92 against and 44 abstentions.

This is a key decision in combating the cost-of-living crisis. The vote comes after ETUC research found Europe’s lowest paid workers are suffering the sharpest decline in purchasing power this century, with statutory minimum wages down by up to 19% in real terms. 

The Directive will mean that:

  • Members states will have to verify the adequacy of statutory minimum wages taking into account purchasing power and the cost of living;
  • Member states will be required to promote collective bargaining and combat union busting, and on countries with collective bargaining coverage below 80% will be required to produce an action plan to support collective bargaining;
  • The strengthening of the involvement of trade unions in the setting and updating of statutory minimum wages;
  • A requirement for companies receiving public procurement contracts to respect the right to organise and collective bargaining in line with ILO Conventions 87 and 98.

The final step of the two-year process will be approval by the European Council of the European Union later this month in the next weeks.

Reacting to the vote, ETUC Deputy General Secretary Esther Lynch said:

“Member States need to get serious about getting wages rising, they should not wait for two years before implementing the Directive. They should take action now to increase statutory minimum wages and promote collective bargaining.

“Wages should never leave workers and their families living in poverty but that has been the reality across Europe for too long.

“This directive is a timely boost to the millions of people struggling to heat their homes and feed their families. Not only by ensuring minimum wages are adequate but by strengthening collective bargaining as the best solution to achieving genuinely fair wages for all.

“The scale and urgency of the cost-of-living crisis has so far not been matched by the actions taken by the European institutions, as highlighted by the absence of any reference to wages in the State of the Union speech this morning.

“This is the right moment for this Directive to be adopted. I hope this directive It is a step of great importance and must be is just the start of the EU action we need to end this crisis, on the basis of the ETUC six-points action plan.

“We now urge ministers to sign this directive off so that working people can start feeling the benefit as soon as possible. The Directive delivers on the European Pillar of Social Rights and demonstrates that the Pillar is more than a political slogan.”