The ETUC and industriAll Europe are concerned about the draft Regulation on the Act in Support of Ammunition Production (ASAP) published on 3 May 2002. The draft regulation aims to strengthen the responsiveness and capacity of the Union's defence industry for the security of the EU and for continued efforts to support Ukraine. Worryingly, it also allows companies to derogate from existing rules that protect workers.
The draft regulation encourages Member States to consider the possibility to, or to encourage concerned companies to, use derogations from existing rules such as the EU Working Time Directive, the Directive on the award of certain works, supply and service contracts by contracting authorities or entities in the fields of defence and security, and the Directive simplifying terms and conditions of transfers of defence-related products within the Community, in order to ensure the proper functioning of the internal market.
In a letter to the ITRE Committee of the European Parliament, the ETUC and industriAll Europe insist that such measures not only put workers' health and safety in jeopardy, but they are also at high price for society by redirecting funds originally intended for cohesion and the green transition, without social conditions attached to the use of public funds.
Once again, the damaging dogma of deregulation and administrative burden reduction pervades the Commission's initiative, a trend that the ETUC and its affiliates have denounced because of the damage it does to the rule of law and democracy in the European Union.
ETUC Confederal Secretary Isabelle Schömann said:
"This draft ASAP regulation, alongside the Single Market Emergency Instrument (SMEI), creates exceptions that are neither proportionate nor adequate by anticipating emergency situations, and. incentives to use the flexibility around working time rights and conditions for defence procurement.
It is unacceptable that workers in the production sites concerned should be deprived of their working time limits, Article 18 of the ASAP Regulation must be deleted. The Working Time Directive, which is a cornerstone of the EU's health and safety acquis, already allows companies to address acute needs for more labour input. As for defence procurement, the relevant directive makes clear that collective agreements and labour law apply during the performance of defence contracts"
Isabelle Barthès, Deputy General Secretary of industriAll Europe, said:
“We understand that the EU needs to step up its efforts to maintain the security of the Union and to support Ukraine, but this cannot be at the expense of workers' health and safety by increasing working hours. At the moment, we are seeing many attempts by employers in industries to exploit the crisis situation to roll back the social acquis and fundamental rights at work. Workers and their trade unions have to fight back in every single case. Therefore, we cannot accept that this draft regulation validates this situation and invites Member States to give a free pass to industries to introduce longer working weeks.
Deregulation, administrative simplification and undermining workers' rights cannot be the only response to a crisis. As workers and their families are hit hard by the cost of living crisis, the EU must support people by mitigating the effects of the crisis and tackling growing inequalities, not by worsening their working conditions.”