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Commission must try harder on social rights and posted workers say unions
 FOLLOWING A GENERAL WINDING DOWN OF EU LEGISLATIVE EFFORTS on topics such as health and safety and posted workers there was some hope, on his inauguration, that new EU president Jean-Claude Juncker might reinvigorate the ‘social pillar’ as he had proclaimed his desire to be ‘a President of social dialogue’. A year and a half later the European Commission has produced proposals both on workers sent to foreign countries and the wider issue of a ‘Pillar of Social Rights’. The latter is conceived as ‘work for a fair and truly pan-European labour market .... which takes account of the changing realities of the world of work’. Included are rights to minimum pay, representation, health and safety, limits to working time, life-long learning, child care and pensions; all concepts that trade unions would support. Not only that but President Juncker ‘will expect social partners to play a central role in this process’. On posted workers Employment Commissioner Marianne Thyssen sounded a similar note in a proposal that posted workers be subject to equal pay and working conditions with local workers. All remuneration earned by local workers, including bonuses and allowances, will now apply to foreign employees, not just minimum
Liina Carr put this down to the lack of consultation with both unions and employers: ‘The Commission did not follow our advice and the result is a proposal that excludes many workers’ she commented. The European Federation of Building and Woodworkers (EFBWW) agrees and believes that fraudulent practices such as bogus self-employment and letterbox companies will not be stamped out. This is ‘equal pay that many posted workers will never get’ concluded Sgr. Visentini. On the ‘European Pillar of Social Rights’ (EPSR) the ETUC again draws attention to holes in the practical implementation of the proposal rather than any failure of principle. ‘The European Commission has published an ambitious list of principles, much of which we can support’ responded General Secretary Visentini but ‘seems not to be suggesting anything legally binding for the moment, which would make this pillar rather weak’. He also criticised the limiting of the rights to the eurozone rather than the whole of the EU. One feature of the proposal that may be beyond criticism is the consultation process, a detailed web questionnaire has been published and interested parties have until the end of the year to post their answers.

The ETUC’s Carr & Visentini, President Juncker & Commissioner Thyssen

rates. At first glance these proposals would seem to be a victory for European trade unions but the reaction has been lukewarm. On posted workers Luca Visentini, General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) acknowledged that ‘President Juncker promised equal pay for equal work and has delivered it’ but ‘with a significant loophole’. The missing elements are collective bargaining rights for posted workers, particularly at company level, and making main contractors jointly liable with sub-contractors for terms and conditions of employment. Confederal Secretary



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