Project on subcontracting has come to its end

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All the project outcomes will be published on the ETUC Democracy at work website.

Securing workers' rights on subcontracting chains

The ETUC’s project on securing workers’ rights in subcontracting chains has come to its end. We are very happy to present the outcomes of this project after two and a half years of intensive cooperation between the ETUC, the European Trade Union Federations, national trade unions, researchers, labour authorities and many more.

Subcontracting is a business strategy

In certain sectors – such as food and agriculture, the garment industry, road transport and construction – subcontracting practices are widespread, and abuse of workers’ rights is frequent. In these sectors, subcontracting has become a strategy to increase companies’ profit and competitiveness, while workers face the negative consequences in forms of less income, less social contributions, longer working hours, worse health & safety conditions, etc.

The purpose of the project

The ETUC started a project on securing workers’ rights in subcontracting chains in 2019, with the financial support of the European Commission. The aim was to build a case for a more consistent EU approach towards subcontracting. There is a need to create better tools and conditions for workers’ and their representatives to know about their rights and to be informed and consulted about the practices of their company along its subcontracting chain. Strengthening the legal framework on subcontracting and making trade unions’ and workers’ representatives’ involvement an essential part of it would help improving the working conditions for millions of workers in the EU.

Outcomes of the project

The project has delivered the following outcomes:

  • Report on subcontracting case studies in 3 different sectors: A research team has gathered evidence from example cases characteristic for subcontracting in the food, construction and garment sectors.
  • Mapping of the legal provisions on subcontracting. In addition, the project has set out the consequences of the lack of regulation at EU level, particularly in terms of joint and several liability, due diligence, transparency and reporting requirements.
  • Report on Public Procurement in the EU: A research team has analysed the national  transposition of Directive 2004/18/EC with regards to the Social clauses.