ETUC welcomes binding social clause in public procurement

Brussels, 15/01/2014

The introduction of a mandatory social clause guaranteeing the respect for labour law and collective agreements in the workplace is an important improvement to the European rules on public procurement.

The revised directive on public procurement will allow public authorities to make sustainable choices and make sure that workers’ rights are upheld”, said Veronica Nilsson, ETUC Confederal Secretary.

Application of public procurement rules affects working conditions of thousands of workers all over Europe and are therefore of key importance to the ETUC and its affiliates. Public procurement must not contribute to a race to the bottom in terms of pay and working conditions.”

The quality of procured goods and services is another important aspect. The ETUC calls on member states to make use of the possibility of preventing contracting authorities from using price as the only award criterion when granting a contract.

The ETUC regrets that it remains optional for member states to introduce a mechanism for joint and several liability for subcontractors, but welcomes the obligation for the main contractor to provide information about the subcontractors.

However, the new public procurement rules remain complex and much is left for member states to decide such as the possibility for member states to reserve contracts for health, social and cultural services. Safeguards are needed to make sure that private companies cannot apply for such reserved contracts.

The ETUC will, in close co-operation with affiliated trade unions, monitor and influence the implementation of the revised public procurement directive into national legislation and practise.