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Exploitation of cross-border workers must be combated by effective rules and sanctions

Tripartite Social Summit, 14 March 2013

The EFBWW General Secretary, Sam Hägglund, spoke in the “Tripartite Social Summit” on 14 March as part of the trade union delegation. The Summit was co-chaired by Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy and the President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso.

Sam Hägglund pointed at the extent of exploitation of cross-border workers in Europe today, and the contradictions between the framework of rights in Europe and the EU policy to incentivize mobility of workers across borders: “These cases of social dumping which are spreading over Europe do not only deprive workers of wages and social rights and expose them to health and safety hazards. They also deprive Member States of tax income and many times employ their authorities in legal proceedings against companies which often have ceased to exist. But they are also distorting the market since serious companies have to compete with fraudulent companies which are not paying social contributions for its workers.”
Sam Hägglund expressed deep concern with the present development of the Enforcement Directive, and highlighted some points that have to be solved to make this directive acceptable for the EFBWW and the trade union movement, e.g. that a worker must never lose his or her protection based on the host country conditions and legislation, and that host Member States and trade unions must be able to continue to conduct all required checks and inspections that are necessary to prevent, control and sanction cross-border exploitation.
Sam Hägglund made an appeal to the EU legislators to take seriously the criticism on fundamental rights in the EU that has been raised by international organisations. Two weeks ago the ILO Committee of Experts stated that the restrictions to the right to strike following the Laval and Viking judgments of the European Court of Justice are violating ILO Convention no 87. And last week the Norwegian Supreme Court ruled – in contradiction to the EFTA Court – that all elements in generally applicable collective agreements are valid also for temporary posted workers. The EU should take this criticism on board and live up to the fact that the Charter of Fundamental Rights is now a binding part of the EU Treaty.

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