The Czech Republic took up the Presidency of the European Union during a period of unprecedented crisis, which was quickly followed by a wave of redundancies and restructuring plans. To cope effectively with the social consequences of this crisis that threatens to place ever greater numbers of workers in a situation of employment insecurity and carries the political risk of encouraging nationalism, an ETUC delegation submitted a number of proposals to the Czech prime minister during their meeting in Prague on 28 January.
ETUC General Secretary John Monks declared: ‘To avoid reversions to nationalism and protectionism, it is vital to take measures that respond to the concerns of those hit hardest by the crisis or likely to be affected soon. We must waste no time. The ETUC proposes a New Social Deal that truly encourages social inclusion and maintains purchasing power. The objective of this New Social Deal is to act on employment, to help people in precarious employment and to spare no effort to keep the employment market from becoming more insecure. The social partners must be involved in this initiative. This New Social Deal will have to be consistent with a Green Deal investing in research to ensure sustainable development. We should also keep in mind that the European elections will take place under the Czech EU Presidency, with both the legislative and executive branches of the European Union being renewed. It is important to press for the promotion of a strong European project with a clear social orientation, otherwise there may well be a build-up of Euro-scepticism and high voter absenteeism. The response to the crisis must also be European. The labour market is becoming Europeanised and appropriate social measures must exist or be strengthened if we hope to avoid seeing more pronounced imbalances and inequalities. The danger is both social and political.’
ETUC proposes in particular to add a social progress protocol as an annex to the EU treaties in order to reaffirm the pre-eminence of fundamental rights over single market rules and to initiate a recast of the Directive on the posting of workers.
ETUC expects the Czech Presidency to take clear initiatives with respect to these proposals.
The Trade union memorandum to the Czech Presidency of the European Union can be accessed and downloaded at the following address: www.etuc.org/a/5767.
A social progress protocol is needed more urgently than ever