Government Pressing For Watering Down Of Measures To Protect Workers Against Exploitation In Europe

12 Dec 2013

UK government hypocrisy on EU free movement beggars belief and the public needs to know as actions in Brussels contrasts sharply with their words to a UK audience on migration from Romania and Bulgaria says GMB.

A majority of employment ministers from EU member states, meeting in Brussels on Monday 9th December, agreed watered down proposals on the Posting of Workers Enforcement Directive.  This deals with terms and conditions for workers from one member state working in other member states. These proposals will now go to be the subject of final negotiations between the EU Parliament and Council of Ministers.

After GMB members experience at Lindsey Oil Refinery and other sites GMB will press MEPs to support more scope for member states to be able to apply and enforce national control measures, on the basis of a truly open list, that prevent social dumping of workers. GMB will also ask MEPs to support joint and several liability to apply throughout the subcontracting chain for contractors and subcontractors found abusing workers and denying them their pay, conditions and protections.

The current proposals restrict this to first level contracting and, at the request of UK Government, only to the construction sector – the abuse is not limited to this sector and needs to be applied more widely.

Kathleen Walker Shaw, GMB European officer in Brussels, said “UK employers are actively recruiting workers either directly or via temporary agencies from EU countries with lower wages and social contributions to boost their profits at the expense of exploited workers. The UK Government at the meeting pressed for even further watering down in the Directive. They did not want to restrict the ability of business to abuse vulnerable posted workers from other EU countries and to run down pay and conditions in Britain at will.

As far as GMB and the wider European trade union movement are concerned these enforcement measures agreed by Governments don’t go far enough. Yet here is the UK Government spurning even these weak provisions. The hypocrisy of the UK Government on free movement is breath taking. People in Britain need to be told about it.  Their actions in Brussels contrasts sharply with their words to a UK audience on migration from Romania and Bulgaria.

GMB will press MEPs and Ministers of EU Governments to tighten up the directive for member states to be able to apply and enforce national control measures and for joint and several liability to apply throughout the subcontracting chain for contractors and subcontractors. As the general election approaches there needs to be more pressure on the UK Government to support measures to stop companies undermining pay and conditions in the UK where living standards are already under threat.

The only way to stop exploitation of UK and migrant workers is to level up rather than calling for workers across Europe to be sold off to the lowest bidder in a race to the bottom of pay and conditions.”