SMEI: Right to strike still not protected

The right to strike is still not protected in the European Commission’s proposal for a Single Market Emergency Instrument (SMEI).

The ETUC wrote to the Commission earlier this month to raise concerns about their plans to repeal a regulation* which protects the right to strike as part of their new plan to crisis-proof the single market.

In the draft legislation published today, the Commission have included a reference to the right to collective bargaining and action – but only in the non-binding recitals rather than the actual legislation as was previously the case.

Thierry Breton, the Commissioner for the internal market, said during the press conference: “The right to strike is a fundamental right and this instrument does not interfere whatsoever with that right.”

If that is the case, then the Commission should have no problem in moving the protections for the right to strike from the recitals to a specific clause of the legislation.  

ETUC Confederal Secretary Isabelle Schömann:

“It was good to hear the Commission clarify today that it is not their intention to undermine the right to strike through this legislation. 

“But, if this is the case, then the Commission should have no hesitation in inserting a clause safeguarding the right to strike in the legislation.

“Trade unions work on the basis of law, not political promises and we will not accept safeguards for the right to strike being weakened in EU law.

“We fully appreciate the need to ensure the single market continues to function during emergencies, but this must not come at the expense of fundamental rights.”


Full letter to the Commission

*Article 2 of the ‘Strawberry Regulation’ 2679/98 on the functioning of the internal market states:

“This Regulation may not be interpreted as affecting in any way the exercise of fundamental rights as recognised in Member States, including the right or freedom to strike. These rights may also include the right or freedom to take other actions covered by the specific industrial relations systems in Member States.”