Brussels, 18/01/2007

The informal ministerial meeting focuses on improving the quality of work, and on the European Commission's Green Paper on ‘modernising labour law'. The ETUC welcomes the German Presidency's decision to discuss the urgent question of the quality of work in Europe. The ETUC is ready to take part in the debate on ‘flexicurity', but only if good and safe jobs are at the centre of the discussion. Flexicurity has to benefit workers as well as business.

Workers are already bearing a heavy burden in adapting to restructuring, new employment conditions, and the increased flexibility that is demanded of them ,” said John Monks. “Vulnerable groups in precarious jobs with little protection face an even worse situation. This is creating a two-tier labour market in Europe which must be addressed urgently.

Figures show that involuntary part-time and fixed-term work is on the increase. Some 8 million part-timers are unable to find full-time jobs. Half of young workers are being forced into short-term contracts. European leaders must listen to the 80% of workers who say that the security of their job is the most important aspect of good work.

The ETUC is concerned that the debate on the Green Paper is being hi-jacked by the flexicurity issue, focusing specifically on cutting regulation creating a ‘jungle' of work contracts and facilitating dismissal, rather than enhancing working conditions. In the emerging European labour market, the ETUC is calling for re-regulation, not deregulation, and reaffirms that standard employment contracts and robust job protection must remain the rule.
Insecure employment conditions will generate poor training, low productivity, and low innovation for all workers, ” said John Monks. “Instead, we need to work together to develop innovative ideas for creating good quality jobs.

The ETUC urged the Ministers of Employment to undertake a joint report on the quality of work in Europe and to present and discuss this report further under the Portuguese Presidency, in line with the debate on joint principles on flexicurity.