Unions set out 6 key tests for EU wages directive

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?  

2. Set a level of decency below which statutory minimum wages cannot be set and guarantee increases in statutory minimum wages? ETUC calls for a threshold of 60% of the media wage and 50% of the average wage.

3. Ban the exclusion of certain workers from statutory minimum wages e.g. young workers, and prohibit employers from deducting costs from statutory minimum wages, e.g. training or protective equipment?

4. Prohibit companies from benefitting from EU and national public procurement contracts if they refuse to negotiate with a union?

5. Ensure the full involvement of unions and employers, including in statutory minimum wage setting?

6. Include a clause to guarantee no damage to effective collective-bargaining systems and prevent bad interpretations by the courts?

ETUC Deputy General Secretary Esther Lynch said:

“A Directive on fair wages is a good idea and what trade unions across Europe are calling for. But the question is whether it will actually increase statutory minimum wages, and whether it will get more employers to the negotiating table?

“The ETUC will assess if the Directive is strong enough, if it can be improved by MEPs and Ministers, or if  it is so weak that it needs to be put in the bin.

“The ETUC will have no option but to vehemently oppose the proposals if they undermine collective bargaining or in any way prevent increases in minimum wages.”

More information: 

EU countries with weak collective bargaining have lowest wages 

Huge majority of trade unions call for EU law on fair wages 

Statutory minimum wages leave workers at risk of poverty in at least 17 EU member states

ETUC documents on fair minimum wages and collective bargaining