Responding to the State of the Union Address, ETUC General Secretary Eshter Lynch said:
“Today’s speech was future-focussed. It commits the EU to build a future based on a fair and just transition with decent jobs. The challenges of guardrails for AI were recognised along with the importance of childcare for workers.
Payouts to shareholders are rising up to 13 times faster in Europe than pay for working people, an analysis by the European Trade Union Confederation has found.
Dividend payments increased by 75 per cent in Portugal and 66 per cent in Denmark between April and June this year, while nominal compensation in those countries rose by 6 per cent and 5 per cent.
Across Europe, dividends increase by 10 per cent – double the rate at which wages are rising – and reached a record 184.5bn US dollars.
The 1.5 million people who are exposed to lead at work would be safer under proposals adopted today by the European Parliament’s Committee on Employment and Social Affairs – but more research is needed into its effect on reproductive health.
The Spanish presidency of the Council is set to convene inter-institutional negotiations with a view to putting these protections into force.
The current exposure limits for lead leaves workers at risk of reproductive problems as well as stomach, lung and bladder cancer as a result of inhaling lead dust or fumes.
Europe is no closer to resolving the exploitation of cross-border workers following the communication on digitalisation in social security presented today by the European Commission.
The lack of interconnected social security systems within the European Union creates a loophole which allows companies to cut costs by avoiding the payment of social security contributions for their workers.
Struggling families are facing another inflation setback as children return to the classroom, with the cost of the most basic school supplies rising twice as fast as wages across Europe.
The price of essential items like pens, pencils, paper, folders, erasers, sharpeners or scissors increased by 13 per cent on average between January and May this year.
Trade unions have called on Ursula von der Leyen to address Europe’s growing ‘social justice emergency’ ahead of her State of the Union address.
In a letter to the European Commission President, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) highlights how workers have seen their purchasing power collapse at the same time as corporate profits and dividends exploded.
The number of firefighters has been cut in ten EU member states despite the climate crisis increasing the risk of fires, am analysis of new Eurostat data by the European Trade Union Confederal (ETUC) has found.
Between 2021 and 2022, France lost the highest number of firefighters (-5,446), followed by Romania (-4,250) and Portugal (-2,907).
The biggest percentage cuts over the same period came in Slovakia (-30%), Bulgaria (-22), Portugal (-21) and Belgium (-19).
European trade unions have today thrown their weight behind the campaign to stop the far-right in Spain and elect parties that will put working people first.
Esther Lynch, General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation representing 45 million workers, travelled to Madrid to join the leaders of the CCOO and UGT unions in launching a manifesto in support of a progressive government.
There will be no break from the cost-of-living crisis this summer, with families facing the highest increase in the cost of holidays and staycation activities on record.
The price of package holidays, which are meant to provide the best value breaks, at home or abroad has increased by 12.4% across the EU between January and May and that follows an 11.5% increase last year.
That is the highest increase in the cost of package holidays since records began in 1996 – before last year, the previous highest annual rise was 7.2% in 2015.
The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) strongly condemn the EU’s memorandum of understanding as overlooking an alarming level of human rights violations, including against migrants and trade unionists.
Commenting on the conclusions of the European Council, European Trade Union Confederation General Secretary Esther Lynch said:
“In the week that both the ECB and IMF said profits are the largest contributor to inflation, it’s incredible that there is no mention of it in the Council’s conclusions on the social and economic situation and challenges. Greedflation is the elephant in the room. It is causing misery for millions of people.
Protection for workers from cancer-causing asbestos fibres will be significantly improved – but risks being implemented too late to protect those involved in building renovations part of the EU Green Deal.
The occupational exposure limit for asbestos across the EU is to be set at 2,000 fibres/m³ following trialogue negotiations between the European Commission, Council and Parliament on the revision of the Directive on asbestos at work.
The new limit is 50 times lower than the current exposure limit of 100,000 fibres/m³, but is subject to a long implementation period:
In implementing the EU’s Minimum Wage Directive, more Member States are taking steps to promote collective bargaining between trade unions and employers. In this edition of National Updates we focus on the benefits for workers, and some of the gains that have been achieved recently as a result of union negotiations.
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The European Parliament has today approved the Artificial Intelligence Act.
The Artificial Intelligence Act proposed by the European Commission only requires manufacturers to rank their own technology between low and high risk before putting it on the market and did not include any rules on the use of AI in the workplace.
The ETUC welcomes the important improvements made by the progressive forces in the European Parliament, including:
The European Parliament has today voted by a large majority to ban unpaid internships – putting the ball firmly in the court of the European Commission to stop employers exploiting young people.
The report on quality traineeships adopted in plenary, with 404 votes in favour compared to just 78 against, includes calls for an EU Directive that will introduce:
• Fair remuneration in line with minimum wage
• Social Security coverage
• Clear training and learning objectives
The European Council wants to remove the criminalisation of rape out of the draft directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence.
The European Trade Union Confederation condemns the decision of some member states to hide behind a false argument that there is no legal basis for its inclusion.
The Council’s proposals also fail to address the safety of women in the workplace by:
The ETUC notes the adoption at today’s EPSCO of the Council Recommendation with the aim of strengthening social dialogue at national level.
We have concerns about the process, as the European Social Partners were not consulted on the final text before its adoption. Therefore, we will now need to analyse the text in full to make sure that trade union prerogatives are fully respected.
EU ministers made an important step towards the next phase of negotiations on the better regulation of platform work when they agreed the European Council’s position on the directive on platform work.
But improvements are needed because:
Putting the money where the Decent Work is
Speech Esther Lynch, General Secretary, European Trade Union Confederation
[Check against delivery]
Director General, Distinguished Delegates,
It is a great honour to represent 54m workers and their trade unions around Europe.
We come here to the ILC seeking justice and respect. Respect for every worker, men and women in all our diversity.
ETUC and IndustriAll Europe are disappointed that the European Parliament adopted on 1 June the Act in Support of Ammunition Production without amendments. The regulation, as originally proposed, would allow the diversion of funds initially intended for cohesion and recovery towards the defence sector as well as encouraging the use of greater flexibility around working time rules. Trade unions express grave concern about the precedent that is being set.
The European Parliament has today voted to make EU businesses accountable for their conduct – but stronger measures will be needed to prevent unions and workers’ rights violations.
The vote of the Parliament’s report on the proposal for a Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive represents an important step forward in putting people and planet before the profits at all costs, and making businesses accountable.