Restrictions on the right of self-employed people, including those working through digital labour platforms, to bargain collectively for fair pay and working conditions are to be lifted across Europe following victory in a long-running trade union campaign.
With more than one in five persons in the EU, 94.5 million, already ‘at risk of poverty or social exclusion’ last year – and with inflation now running at 9.1% - the ETUC is calling on Ministers to adopt the European Commission’s Recommendation on minimum incomes as a matter of urgency – and not wait for another 8 years before implementing it!
“Rising prices hit people in poverty the hardest” said Liina Carr, ETUC Confederal Secretary “and the poor cannot wait until 2030 for the recommendations to be implemented.
EU action on asbestos exposure could save up to 90,000 lives a year across Europe – but the European Commission has sided with business lobbyists who want to limit measures in order to save money.
The European Commission has today proposed a review of the 2009 Asbestos at Work Directive, which set a dangerously high maximum exposure level of 0,1 fibres of asbestos per cm3.
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.
Europe took an important step towards ending poverty pay today as the Directive on adequate minimum wages cleared its final vote in the European Parliament with a convincing majority of 505 MEPs in favour, 92 against and 44 abstentions.
Reacting to the State of the Union Speech, ETUC General Secretary Luca Visentini said:
“The real state of the union is that working people across Europe are worried sick about how they are going to afford to heat their homes this winter with falling wages while CEOs and shareholders are enjoying rising profits and dividends.
A new EU ban on good produced through forced labour is crucial to tackling the rise in the number of victims of modern slavery.
The European Commission has proposed a prohibition on products found to have been made using forced labour from sale in the EU, whether they are made in the EU or in third countries.
Europe’s lowest paid workers have seen the value of their wages fall by up to 19 per cent this year, representing the biggest fall in real minimum wages this century, an ETUC analysis of Eurostat data has found.
Statutory minimum wages have risen by an average of 7,6% over the last year in the 21 EU countries which have one. But, in the same countries, the rate of inflation has increased by an average of 12,4%.
As soaring inflation raises food and energy prices and the war in Ukraine drags on, trade unions across Europe are fighting to defend their members’ living standards. Securing higher wages and better working conditions are unions’ core business, but they do much more. In this edition of Workers’ Voice National UPdates, we look as well at some of the other ways trade unions are working for a better society.
The right to strike could be undermined by new EU legislation meant to ensure the single market can withstand crises like the Covid pandemic, a legal analysis by the ETUC has found.
The European Commission is set to adopt its proposal for a Regulation for a Single Market Emergency Instrument (SMEI) on Tuesday, which would put in place contingency measures to guarantee free movement as well as the availability of essential goods and services during any future crisis.
The ECB’s Governing Council yesterday decided to raise the three key ECB interest rates by 75 basis points, the biggest rise since 1999.
Bearing in mind the current rise in inflation is driven by supply-side issues, such as the rise in energy and food prices, following the Russian war in Ukraine and speculation, undue increases in profit margins , and supply-side bottlenecks due to the pandemic, such a move is misguided.
To be checked against delivery
Welcome at the EP premises, colleagues. This is really good to see you and to see you here; Thanks for having replied so numerous to our call.
We are in the EP, at the heart of the EU democratic decision-making process.
This is a 1ere for most of you!
This is a one of the goals we had to bring you as close as possible to EU democracy… so that you make your voice heard, the voice of EWC members, of unionists, of workers rep. as constituencies of businesses.
Commenting on the European Commission’s Care Strategy published today, Liina Carr, ETUC Confederal Secretary said
“The Commission is right to propose that care services should be expanded, be made more accessible and affordable and of higher quality. This is particularly important because of our ageing population and the cost-of-living crisis that is pushing millions of working people into poverty.
“More and more families need quality care services for all people in need whether in early childhood, in old-age or for persons with disabilities.”
Today, activists set up ‘scales of justice’ in front of the Justus Lipsius building in Brussels to ask EU diplomats to guarantee justice for people harmed by companies’ human rights and environmental abuses, ahead of the Council meeting on draft due diligence rules. The action launched the ‘Justice is Everybody’s Business’ campaign by over 100+ civil society and trade union organisations for a strong EU law to hold business accountable for human rights and environmental violations. 
The ETUC regrets that EU membership remains closed to Georgia.
Liina Carr, ETUC Confederal Secretary, speaking ahead of the EU-Georgia Association Council meeting this evening, said “The country has advanced much further in implementing the Association Agreement than other countries and Georgian people should not be held hostage to political games.
The average annual energy bill is now more than a month’s wages for low paid workers in the majority of EU member states, an analysis for the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) has found.
Some 9.5 million people in work already had difficulties paying their energy bills before the cost-of-living crisis began. By July this year the cost of gas and electricity had risen by 38% across Europe compared to last year and the cost keeps rising.
European companies have paid inflation-busting dividends to their shareholders this summer while workers struggling to cope with the cost of living crisis are told they can’t have a decent pay rise, new figures reveal.
Another summer of deadly heatwaves shows why Europe badly needs a law on maximum working temperatures to protect workers from the effects of climate change.
Trade unions are urging the European Commission to take action after two workers collapsed and died after suffering heat stroke in Spain last week. In France, which does not have a maximum working temperature, 12 people died from heat-related work accidents in France in 2020.
Similar tragedies will become more common without legalisation on safe working temperatures.
The European Commission presented today its plan to reduce European gas demand by 15% from 1 August to 31 March 2023.
ETUC agrees that reducing energy consumption and encouraging energy savings is the most effective short term answer to the current emergency. Anticipating the challenges ahead and increasing coordination between Member States is also positive.
While the Ukrainian people bravely resist the Russian invasion and help displaced people, the Ukrainian Government and Parliament are using the war as an excuse to attack workers’ rights and unions – in blatant contradiction of the country’s aspirations to join the EU.
European trade unions support the opening of EU accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia.
Liina Carr, ETUC Confederal Secretary, said “Albania and North Macedonia need to join the EU to secure workers’ rights, a brighter economic future and safeguard democracy. At the same time the EU needs to reassure the people of the western Balkans that there really is a place for them under the democratic and social umbrella of the social market economy of the EU.
More than 38 million people in Europe can’t afford a week’s holiday despite being in work, research for the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) has found.
The cost-of-living crisis is adding pressure on working people, with increasing numbers reporting a struggle to make ends meet and putting holidays even further out of reach.
The share of the total population who could not afford a holiday has increased in over half of EU member states since 2019 and even the share of working people who can’t afford one has increased in 11 countries.
The European Commission has supported the view of trade unions that it is price rises, particularly for energy, that are the primary driver of inflation rather than wages.
In its summer economic forecast, the Commission says both that “surging prices of energy remain the main inflation driver” and “a persistent feedback loop between wages and inflation is unlikely to develop” as real terms wage growth remained negative.
Trade unions are calling for the European Parliament to investigate Uber’s anti-worker lobbying of the EU following the Uber Files leak, which comes amid the company’s efforts to weaken a directive on platform working conditions.
The documents reveal that Uber have held 12 meetings with the European Commission which were not previously disclosed and that a former European Commission vice-president with responsibility for digital policy, Neelie Kroes, secretly lobbied on Uber’s behalf.